What lies within Martian meteorites

Posted by pt91 at Feb 04, 2011 04:45 PM |
University of Leicester scientists have been examining nakhlites – the remains of meteorites know to have originated on the red planet.
What lies within Martian meteorites

Electron micrograph of a vein in a nakhlite

Using electron microscopes in the University’s Advanced Microscopy Centre, Dr John Bridges and PhD student Hitesh Changela of the Department of Physics and Astronomy compared five of these meteorites. They showed the presence of veins created during an impact on Mars. Buried ice melted during this impact depositing clay, serpentine, carbonate and a gel deposit in the veins. 

These deposits are of particular interest to Mars researchers:  they offer a convincing explanation for how water reached the surface of Mars; and serpentine mineralisation is associated with the production of methane, one of the signs of biological life.

But why call these meteorites ‘nakhlites’? Because the first one was found in the village of El-Nakhla in Egypt in 1911. Today, it’s held by the Natural History Museum – but they let us borrow it specially for this study.