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New Evidence Found That Suggests Water On Mars

Update Date: Mar 03, 2014 10:21 AM EST

NASA scientists have discovered a new evidence of past water movement in a Martian meteorite that fell in Antarctica around 50,000 years ago. The new study is focused on structures deep within a 13.7 kilogram meteorite being called as Yamato 000593 (Y000593). 

According to the research, the newly discovered structures and compositional features residing Yamato meteorite once had biological processes that were at work on Mars hundreds of millions of years ago. 

"While robotic missions to Mars continue to shed light on the planet's history, the only samples from Mars available for study on Earth are Martian meteorites," said lead author Lauren White, of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the press release.

"On Earth, we can utilize multiple analytical techniques to take a more in-depth look into meteorites and shed light on the history of Mars. These samples offer clues to the past habitability of this planet. As more Martian meteorites are discovered, continued research focusing on these samples collectively will offer deeper insight into attributes which are indigenous to ancient Mars. Furthermore, as these meteorite studies are compared to present day robotic observations on Mars, the mysteries of the planet's seemingly wetter past will be revealed." 

Researchers said the rock was formed about 1.3 billion years ago from a lava flow on Mars. Due to an impact occurred on Mars around 12 million years ago, the meteorite was ejected from the surface of Mars, added researchers. 

The meteorite travelled through space and finally fell in Antarctica about 50,000 years ago. It was later found by a Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition in 2000 on the Yamato Glacier. 

Researchers said they have found two distinctive sets of features associated with Martian-derived clay. One set of features consisted a nanometre-to-micrometre-sized  pherules. These are sandwiched between layers within the rock and are different from carbonate and the underlying silicate layer. 

"The unique features displayed within the Martian meteorite Yamato 000593 are evidence of aqueous alterations as seen in the clay minerals and the presence of carbonaceous matter associated with the clay phases which show that Mars has been a very active body in its past," said Everett Gibson of the Johnson Space Center, according to FPJ

The findings were published in the February issue of Astrobiology.

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