Researchers discovered glass deposits on the surface of Mars, providing a glimpse to a possibility of past life on the Red Planet, in a paper published online in the Geology journal.
Using NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) data, the Brown University team detected glass deposits in the impact craters on Mars formed by the heat of a violent impact.
Research has previously shown that ancient biosignatures can be preserved in the glass impact.
According to a Brown University PhD student, Kevin Cannon, “ We wanted to go look for them on Mars. Before this paper, no one had been able to definitively detect them on the Martian surface.”
Cannon together with Professor Jack Mustard, the co-author exposed that large glass deposits are present in ancient but yet well-preserved craters dispersed across Mars surface.
The glass deposit’s common impact features in the Red Planet could be possible targets for future exploration.
In order to identify rocks and mineral varieties remotely, the spectra of light reflected off the planet’s surface were measured by the scientists.
But impact glass does not have a particularly strong spectral signal.
“Glasses tend to be spectrally bland or weakly expressive, so signatures from the glass tend to be overwhelmed by the chunks of rock mixed in with it,” Mustard stated. But accordingly, Kevin found a way to tease the signal out.
The knowledge that impact glass is able to preserve ancient signs of life opens a new potential strategy in the search for ancient life on Mars.
The author said that they think these could be an interesting target for exploration in the future. “In fact, we have a particular spot in mind,” the authors concluded.