According to a team of scientists, they have discovered traces of opal inside a meteorite that came from Mars and hit our Planet on June 28, 1911. The Mars meteorite was named Nakhla, after the Egypt town where it was discovered. The new scientific study suggests that the traces of opal inside the meteorite could mean that at some point there was life on Mars, and it may still be.
The researchers detailed their findings in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.
The famous meteorite that holds traces of opal hit the Earth in the Egyptian town of Nakhla on June 28, 1911. The meteorite now belongs to London’s Natural History Museum. After analyzing the stone, the scientists found different colors inside, such as yellow, red and orange, which means the stone is a fire opal.
The researchers analyzed the Mars meteorite using an electron microscope in order to find the traces of opal. Following the analysis, the scientists compared their data and concluded that opal is still found on Mars in a limited quantity. They believe the opal was produced by the interaction between silica and water.
Martin Lee, a scientist at the University of Glasgow’s School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, and one of the lead authors of the study, explained that it’s well-known fact that usually, opals form in and around hot springs on our planet. It’s also known that microbial life forms live in these conditions, which can be trapped inside the opal stones, keeping them preserved for millions of years.
If life on Mars ever existed, there is a possibility that some of the alien microbes could have been trapped and preserved in the opal deposits found on the Red Planet. The researchers that conducted the study said they also found a strange material inside the Mars meteorite. According to them, the material could have been created by water interacting with minerals like augite and olivine. This could indicate that water was responsible of dissolving objects on the Martian ground.
Scientists hope that some of the upcoming Mars missions will focus on analyzing the opals, which may provide important information on understanding the biological processes that occur on the Red Planet. It could shed new light on how it formed and if there was ever any life form on its surface.
Lee wrote in his study that if microbes existed on Mars, there is a strong possibility that some of them got trapped inside opal deposits on the planet’s surface.
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