Mars has five to 10 times more of a chemical ingredient which is vital to life than the Earth has, causing some scientists to believe that it’s further evidence Mars once had life on it, and that meteorites from Mars might have been responsible for the origins of life on Earth.
That nutrient is phosphate. It is crucial because it’s contained within molecules and are used by cells to build their membranes and as a source of energy.
When meteorites from Mars crashed into the Earth millions of years ago, the phosphate contained within them, according to some scientists, could have been vital to the beginnings of life on our planet.
How do scientists know that Mars is richer in phosphate than the Earth?
Scientists know that Mars is richer in phosphate than the Earth because they have studied meteorites from Mars that have crashed into the Earth. Also, there is the evidence revealed by scans taken of the surface of Mars by NASA’s two rovers, Opportunity and Spirit. The greater amount of phosphate discovered on Mars has made the claims of scientists that the life on Earth might have originated on Mars seem more plausible.
That’s especially the case because the phosphate contained in meteorites from Mars is contained in minerals like chlorapatite, and a phosphate-rich mineral called merrillite, not found on Earth, both of which are more soluble in water than the minerals which contain phosphate on Earth.
The minerals here containing phosphate, such as fluorapatite and whitlockite, dissolve and release the nutrient a lot slower. This fact might have slowed the appearance of life on Earth from occurring sooner than it did.
The planetary geochemisht, Christopher Adcock, at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, and his fellow researchers there studied how minerals on Mars, which contain phosphates, dissolve when subjected to various degrees of acidity.
They found out through their research that the minerals on Mars which contain the highest levels of phosphate dissolve more easily than those minerals which contain high levels of phosphate on Earth. Phosphate in the minerals from Mars dissolves more rapidly in water and become available faster in comparison.
How much faster is phosphate in minerals from Mars made available when dissolved in water?
Rocks on Mars which are rich in phosphate dissolve and release their phosphate approximately 45 times more rapidly in comparison to phosphate-rich minerals found on the Earth.
Assuming a past on Mars where water was abundant, the concentrations of phosphate might have been two times higher as that which existed on the Earth at the same time.
As yet unanswered, are questions such as to what calamity might have occurred on Mars that caused its atmosphere to diminish, and what happened to the water that might have once been abundant on the Red Planet?
Mars meteorites, rich in the nutrient phosphate, may have been responsible for initiating the beginnings of life on Earth. Further research is needed, but the evidence is stacking up that life here might have originated on the Red Planet.
Written by: Douglas Cobb