NASA has detected the presence of impact glass on the surface of Mars. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has detected such deposits and it is believed that impact glass on Mars might contain ancient flora.
In the quest for finding life on Mars NASA is trying to focus attention on the areas that are most likely to contain clues.
Since sending a probe on Mars requires vast amounts of time and money, these interest areas have to be pinpointed exactly and need to be properly analyzed by orbiters and telescopes before mission confirmation is given.
In some cases impact glass forded on Earth as a result of a collision between an asteroid and the planed have yielded specimens containing ancient traces of biological material.
It is entirely possible that this could of happened on Mars, and if the planet had life, some of the bio material would be found in the impact glass around the crater.
Since the ancient biomaterial, if it exists, was trapped in glass for millions of years, it could of survived the planets harsh atmosphere unchanged.
Except for direct drilling on the planet this impact glass is NASA’s biggest chance to analyze the planets history and determine if it ever had life.
Researchers Kevin Cannon and Jack Mustard have reported findings of Martian Impact glass in the journal Geology. They analyzed the surface of the planet, looked for craters and studied the possibilities of finding impact glass.
In order to help the Orbiter find this type of material Jack Mustard, deputy investigator of the MRO has synthesized glass a glass like substance and analyzed the spectral qualities of it.
Then using an algorithm he taught the orbit what to look for and soon detected impact glass deposits using the instruments on the Martian Orbiter.
Several large deposits have been detected. One of them is near a depression running for 600 Km called Nili Fossae through. This depression is thought to date back to when Mars had a more hospitable atmosphere and water was more present in liquid form.
NASA’s Mars rover set to be launched in 2020 could investigate this area and bring back or analyze on site the composition of the samples it will collect. If it manages to get close to the crater and rescue a piece of Impact glass, the chances of finding evidence of life on Mars increase.
Image Source: ZME Science