|Deposits of glass (depicted in green) on Mars|
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL/Univ. of Arizona
Remember our last post about colonizing Mars where we made a list of things we would have to do, before and when humans set foot on Mars. Well, you can strike off Glass from the list since a recent finding says that there is abundant glass on Mars.
After finding water and the beautiful auroras on the Red Planet, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has now detected presence of glass in impact craters on Mars. Considering the fact that the ride to Mars would probably be a bumpy one, it is unlikely that we would ever take the pains of taking glass to Mars. But the presence of glass on the planet is not happy news for colonizing enthusiasts alone.
Scientists are especially happy that they have found glass in impact craters. The reason for this being this publication from Peter Schultz from Brown University last year, where he and his colleagues were able to demonstrate that glass found in impact craters on Earth contained traces of organic materials and even managed to capture samples of flora found in the area at the time of the impact. The impact glass that Peter Schultz and his colleagues studied was found in Argentina and is estimated to be 9.2 Million years old.
Thus, this finding of impact glass on Mars provides an opportunity to look into Mars' past and check for evidence of life, if there was any, on the planet. Missions planned in the future will look forward to harvesting these impact glass samples and analysing them to help us learn more about the Red Planet. The discovery of the impact glass has been published researchers in the journal Geology by Kevin Cannon and John Mustard of Brown University.
Had this been found a few years ago, Andy Weir's popular book The Martian, could have an interesting twist and Mark Watney's story could have very much different. Never the less, like all sci-fi buffs, we will also wait for the Matt Damon film to arrive later this year. For those, who cannot wait, there is always the book to buy!
Schultz, P., Harris, R., Clemett, S., Thomas-Keprta, K., & Zarate, M. (2014). Preserved flora and organics in impact melt breccias Geology, 42 (6), 515-518 DOI: 10.1130/G35343.1
Cannon, K., & Mustard, J. (2015). Preserved glass-rich impactites on Mars Geology DOI: 10.1130/G36953.1