Space explorations continue to make new advancements as the discovery of a fire opal suggests a spark of life on Mars once existed. Researchers at an university in Glasgow have recently claimed that the traces of life discovered in a Martian gemstone can finally lead to the definitive proof of the extinct, or even current, existence of living things on the Red Planet.
It seems some things can indeed be right in front of your eyes all along, while searching for them in space. The team of researchers had taken to examining Nakhla, a Martian piece of meteorite that crashed onto Earth in 1911. It was believed to have broken away from its home planet and travelled through the solar system before eventually crashing on our planet, in an Egyptian town that’s now its namesake.
The meteorite is said that have shattered into many broken pieces upon impact, but 40 of them were found and preserved at the Natural History Museum in London for over a hundred years.
With the use of a scanning electron microscope, researchers were able to discover small amounts of “fire opal” within the piece of space rock, thus confirming some of NASA’s reports who has caught images of opal deposits in Martian craters. For the first time, traces of the fire opal and clue to life on Mars were found on our very own planet.
With only 1,7 grams of meteorite available for research, the quantity of opal is insignificant in monetary value as its been known to frequently be encountered in jewelry, but its existence alone makes grand implications. It may be the hint of life on the Red Planet.
Opals are commonly formed in and around mineral-rich waters such as thermal springs, a habitat vastly littered with microbes that can be preserved within the precious rock for millions of years. If the process is similar on Mars, then the opal deposits found by NASA on the planet might be the home of Martian microbes and, hence, life.
It is to be mentioned that the same team is not on their first discovery within the Nakhla meteorite. In 2013, they noticed the presence of secondary minerals inside it that could have only formed with the help of water keeping contact and interacting with primary minerals such as augite and olivine.
It could be the step needed for conclusive proof that there once was life on Mars or that there perhaps still is. The research has given clear direction and purpose for future explorations of the planet, and perhaps even another list of specific missions for potential astronauts.
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