Mars Volcanic Glass May Be Hotspot for Life
by Nola Taylor Redd, SPACE.com Contributor
Date: 01 May 2012 Time: 11:28 AM ET
|Dusty, glass-rich sand dunes like these found just south
of the north polar ice cap could cover much of Mars. (False color image)
CREDIT: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Glass sand on Mars may point the way to chemically-rich water ideal for hosting life. The newly discovered glass dune fields, spread across almost a third of the planet, likely formed from interactions between magma and ice, or water — interactions that could create the perfect environments for microbial life.
The northern lowlands spread across millions of square miles in the Red Planet's northern hemisphere. But dark sediments in the region have puzzled planetary scientists.
Briony Horgan and James Bell, both of Arizona State University, used the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter to re-examine light radiated from the Martian plains. They determined that the strange readings were caused by sand composed of glass.
"We're actually seeing glass particles, like glass sand," Horgan said.
Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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