Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy
. Mars Exploration News .

Mars had oxygen-rich atmosphere 4,000 million years ago
by Staff Writers
Oxford, UK (SPX) Jun 21, 2013

File image.

Differences between Martian meteorites and rocks examined by a NASA rover can be explained if Mars had an oxygen-rich atmosphere 4000 million years ago - well before the rise of atmospheric oxygen on Earth 2500m years ago.

Scientists from Oxford University investigated the compositions of Martian meteorites found on Earth and data from NASA's 'Spirit' rover that examined surface rocks in the Gusev crater on Mars. The fact that the surface rocks are five times richer in nickel than the meteorites was puzzling and had cast doubt on whether the meteorites are typical volcanic products of the red planet.

'What we have shown is that both meteorites and surface volcanic rocks are consistent with similar origins in the deep interior of Mars but that the surface rocks come from a more oxygen-rich environment, probably caused by recycling of oxygen-rich materials into the interior,' said Professor Bernard Wood, of Oxford University's Department of Earth Sciences, who led the research reported in this week's Nature.

'This result is surprising because while the meteorites are geologically 'young', around 180 million to 1400 million years old, the Spirit rover was analysing a very old part of Mars, more than 3700 million years old.'

Whilst it is possible that the geological composition of Mars varies immensely from region to region the researchers believe that it is more likely that the differences arise through a process known as subduction - in which material is recycled into the interior.

They suggest that the Martian surface was oxidised very early in the history of the planet and that, through subduction, this oxygen-rich material was drawn into the shallow interior and recycled back to the surface during eruptions 4000 million years ago.

The meteorites, by contrast, are much younger volcanic rocks that emerged from deeper within the planet and so were less influenced by this process.

Professor Wood said: 'The implication is that Mars had an oxygen-rich atmosphere at a time, about 4000 million years ago, well before the rise of atmospheric oxygen on earth around 2500 million years ago.

As oxidation is what gives Mars its distinctive colour it is likely that the 'red planet' was wet, warm and rusty billions of years before Earth's atmosphere became oxygen rich.'


Related Links
University of Oxford
Mars News and Information at
Lunar Dreams and more

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

ExoMars 2016 Set To Complete Construction
Paris (ESA) Jun 19, 2013
ESA's mission to Mars in 2016 has entered the final stage of construction with the signature of a contract with Thales Alenia Space at the Paris Air and Space Show. ExoMars will fly two missions, in 2016 and 2018, in a partnership between ESA and the Russian space agency, Roscosmos. Its main goal is to answer one of the outstanding scientific questions of our time: has life ever existed on ... read more

Metamorphosis of Moon's Water Ice Explained

Scientists use gravity, topographic data to find unmapped moon craters

Australian team maps Moon's hidden craters

LADEE Arrives at Wallops for Moon Mission

China's Shenzhou-10 spacecraft returns to Earth

Xi vows bigger stride in space exploration

Chinese astronauts manually dock spacecraft

China astronaut teaches lesson from space

Russian cosmonauts conduct space station tasks in spacewalk

Accelerating ISS Science With Upgraded Payload Operations Integration Center

Strange Flames on the ISS

Europe's space truck docks with ISS

New Horizons Team Sticking to Original Flight Plan at Pluto

Planning Accelerates For Pluto Encounter

'Vulcan' wins Pluto moon name vote

Public to vote on names for Pluto moons

Revealed - the mystery of the gigantic storm on Saturn

Cassini Finds Hints of Activity at Saturn Moon Dione

Wild Weather Could Be Ahead on Titan

Cassini Shapes First Global Topographic Map of Titan

Five Years of Stereo Imaging for NASA's TWINS

Vegetation as Seen by Suomi NPP

How did a third radiation belt appear in the Earth's upper atmosphere

Arianespace to launch Gokturk-1 high-resolution observation satellite

NASA Bill Would 'End Reliance on Russia,' Nix Asteroid Capture Project

Britain shut down UFO desk after finding no threat: files

New Zealand emerges as guinea pig for global tech firms

NASA announces eight new astronauts, half are women

Retirement for planet-hunting space probe

Trio of 'super Earths' in a star's habitable zone

Study finds planets in habitable zone around a distant star

NASA's Hubble Uncovers Evidence of Farthest Planet Forming From its Star

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement