Meteorites help scientists probe Mars’ early atmosphere

Metiorites     Paul Sutherland News Editor

Sen—Scientists are using rare rocks found on Earth, but which originated on Mars, to discover more about the early history of our planetary neighbour.

The igneous rocks are the small number of meteorites discovered that have been identified as coming from Mars. They were blasted out of the Red Planet by massive asteroid or comet impacts billions of years ago.

Trapped within these martian meteorites are samples of the planet’s ancient air, and so analysing its chemistry helps geologists to learn what Mars’ atmosphere was like when the planet was much younger.

By studying 40 of the meteorites, researchers have found that the atmospheres of Mars and Earth developed in very different ways in the very early days of the Solar System. Their results, published in the journal Nature, are another piece in the jigsaw of information that will help discover whether life exists or ever existed on Mars, plus the history of its water.

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