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article imageCould Mars once have supported life?

By Tim Sandle     Apr 26, 2016 in Science
Houston - NASA’s Curiosity rover has collected data from Mars that scientists are interpreting as indicating that the red planet once had an oxygen-rich atmosphere.
Evidence of an oxygen-rich atmosphere has come from the rover's analysis of Martian rocks. Mars is red in color due to the large abundance of iron, which colors the surface and rock structures. However, probing deeper, the Curiosity spacecraft has detected manganese oxide in rocks in Mars’s Gale crater.
The Gale Crater is a structure around 5 miles deep. It is one of the most important geological features on Mars because the various layers relating to the craters formation reveal a story about what Mars was like in the past. The crater is some 3.5-3.8 billion years old, and it forms part of the northwestern part of the Aeolis quadrangle on the planet's surface.
Speaking with New Scientist magazine, Agnès Cousin of the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology in Toulouse, France, stated: "We found 3 per cent of rocks have high manganese oxide content. That requires abundant water and strongly oxidising conditions, so the atmosphere may have contained much more oxygen than we thought."
The rover detected the chemicals by blasting rocks with a laser and the analyzing the dust that was generated. The rocks were possibly located close to a gigantic lake.
Despite the Martian atmosphere having only trace amounts of oxygen and being formed of 95 percent carbon dioxide, the finding from the rover is being taken as the most direct evidence that planet once had an oxygen rich atmosphere.
More about Mars, Planet, Oxygen, Space, Life on Mars
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