The researchers discovered deposits of glass on Mars and believe it could provide new information about possible ancient life on this mysterious planet.
The team who made the discovery consists of researchers from Brown University. According to them, they used data collected by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and spotted deposits of glass inside impact craters.
The experts believe the glass formed as a result of an extremely violent impact.
Previous studies have shown that ancient biosignatures can stay preserved if it’s kept in impact glass.
Kevin Cannon, PhD student at Brown University and one of the scientists involved in the study, explained that they wanted to see if glass was indeed kept inside impact craters on Mars, and it was.
Cannon added that prior to this recent discovery, no one has ever found glass on Mars before.
Cannon and professor Jack Mustard, co-author of the study, showed that deposits of glass are actually present in numerous craters on the surface of the Red Planet.
According to them, these recently found deposits of glass could be used as targets for upcoming exploration and are common impact features on the Martian surface.
In order to identify the types of minerals and rocks, the researchers measure the spectra of light that is reflected by from the surface of the planet.
But scientists say that the spectral signal of impact glass is not very strong.
Mustard explained that glass materials tend to have a weak spectral signal, meaning that the signatures sent by the glass tend to be lost in the rocks surrounding it.
But his colleague found an ingenious method to make the signal more powerful, Mustard added.
The scientist made a composition by mixing powders that were very similar to the rocks found on Mars and heated them in a powerful oven to form glass.
Then the researcher measured the spectral signal that the glass was emitting.
Once they had the signal from the glass made in the lab, the scientists used an algorithm designed to detect similar signals in the data collected by NASA’s orbiter.
Using this method the researchers were able to spot the deposits of glass on Mars inside the impact craters.
According to the experts, the fact that the glass deposits were located on central peaks could mean that they have impact origins.
The researchers published their findings in the journal Geology.
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