Meteorite found 100 years ago in Egypt reveals life on Mars for University of Leicester team

By Culture24 Staff | 02 February 2011
A grey and black scan of particles inside a meteorite from Mars
This image of the Natural History Museum's nakhlite shows a vein through which water has flowed© University of Leicester
Scientists have used a National History Museum meteority found 100 years ago in Egypt to discover the presence of water, clay, serpentine and carbonite on Mars.

The nakhlite – named after the village of El-Nakhla where it was spotted in 1911 – was one of five Martian meteorites to undergo electron microscope investigation, milling tiny wafers of rock off its edges.

Experts from the University of Leicester’s Space Research Centre said the fragments showed buried ice and gel deposits on the surface of the red planet.

“We are now starting to build a realistic model for how water deposited minerals formed on Mars,” said Dr John Bridges, citing “impact heating” as a key part of the findings.

“The constraints we are establishing about temperature, pH and duration of the hydrothermal action help us to better understand the evolution of the Mars surface.

“With models like this we will better understand the areas where we think that water was once present on Mars.”

The results have been published in the latest issue of academic journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.
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