Asteroid Found May Help Discover Life on Mars


A team of scientists have discovered pieces of space particles that crash landed on earth, specifically Argentina, between 9.2 and 3 million years ago that contain fragments of ancient earth. The fragments, once studied, have offered knowledge of what the earth was like millions of years ago. With this find and the methods used to reach a conclusion about the contents of the asteroid fragments, scientists may be able to apply this knowledge to help discover if there was ever life on Mars.

These space particle fragments contain bits of plants and molten glass that have been preserved inside the pieces. The scientists have determined how the fragments of plants game to be inside of the pieces: upon impact the space particle fragments rolled around and collected materials from what we now consider ancient earth. The fragments were extremely hot upon impact but quickly cooled on the asteroid, storing the earth and heat-made glass particles safely inside.

The plant particles inside of the space fragments are easily identified due to intact cellular structures and vascular bundles, which are basically strands of plant tissue. The vascular bundles found in the space fragments, scientists have determined, are very close in relation to modern pampas grass, found in Argentina. The soil found in Argentina is surprisingly similar to soil found on Mars, so scientists want to take the methods learned from this asteroid and apply it to space to help discover if there may have once been life on Mars.

“Impact glass may be where the 4 billion-year-old signs of life are hiding,” remarks an excited Pete Schultz, the scientist that led the discovery team in Argentina. Schultz and his crew have recreated the explosion in a lab, on a much smaller scale of course, in order to understand exactly how this preservation process occurred. The team heated up glass particles and pampas leaves to find the exact temperature necessary for this particle preservation; the conclusion led the team to discover that the protective layers of the grasses within the earth pieces prevented the insides from burning, or changing at the cellular level.

People have wondered for years whether there was, or is, life on Mars. Humans began searching for life on Mars in the 19th century and fascination has not dimmed since. There have been landed missions on the fourth planet from the sun that have encouraged the desire for more discoveries. This found method of determining ancient life may be applied to Mars in the future; there may be known history of life on Mars within the next decade or two.

Theoretically, Schultz and his team would now be able to apply this scientific process of discovering life to impact glass found on Mars, since the soil found on Mars and Argentina are so similar. The team may help find particles of life within the impact glass on Mars, just as they discovered environmental characteristics of ancient earth in the asteroid-made Argentina impact glass. This discovery would certainly change the world’s view of life as it is now.

By Courtney Heitter

ifl science

One Response to "Asteroid Found May Help Discover Life on Mars"

  1. Michael Schultheiss   April 20, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    A very interesting discovery! That said, E. O. Wilson has speculated that we could yet discover alien lifeforms (presumably microbes) on Earth. Doubtful? Perhaps, but it may be more plausible than one might think, given the degree to which we tend to think of life in very conventional, Earth-centered terms. Life resulting from an independent abiogenesis event might not play by quite the same rules.

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