Chemicals found in sedimentary rock that once covered Earth’s surface have been identified in a study that indicates there may be a lot of them buried deep underground.
A study published in the journal Nature Geoscience shows chemical-bearing rocks from the mantle are present in the surface of Mars’ Gale Crater, a feature that contains water, sulfur and carbonate minerals.
In the study, scientists used X-ray and radio spectroscopy to study sediments from Gale Craters south of the crater rim and from other parts of Mars that were sampled from different parts of the Martian surface.
The results showed that the composition of rocks in the mantle varies widely.
In some places, the chemical composition of the rocks ranges from less than 10 per cent to more than 70 per cent.
In other places, it is nearly 90 per cent, according to the study.
The study indicates that there may well be a mix of different kinds of rocks and sediments buried in the upper parts of Martian mantle.
This means that, in addition to being composed of rocks, they could contain organic material, or other chemicals.
“We found that the chemistry of the materials is very different, in fact they are quite different from rocks we normally find in rocks that we find on Earth,” said study co-author John Ostrovsky of the University of Washington.
The samples were taken by a robot that is called MAVEN, a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency.MAVEN is designed to study the composition and structure of Mars, and is a joint project of NASA and ESA.
The robot is capable of detecting and measuring chemical signatures from the Martian atmosphere, as well as detecting radioactivity, and a few other things.
It is also designed to search for signs of past life on Mars, which the rover Curiosity has found on the Red Planet.
“What we find here is a mixture of materials that were present in ancient times, but have not been in contact with Earth for thousands of years,” said Ostroadsky.
“It is a very, very interesting environment.”
The Martian atmosphere is made of methane and carbon dioxide, but not water, which is present in Earths atmosphere.
The presence of these gases in the atmosphere is considered a hallmark of life on Earth.
A recent study, published in Science Advances, suggested that Earth had once had a salty, acidic atmosphere.
Scientists also know that there were a lot more microbes living on Earth at the time than we know today.
Ostrovatsky and his colleagues say the diversity of microbial life on our planet is very similar to the diversity on Mars.
“The microbes we are studying are actually pretty diverse,” he said.
“On Earth, you would expect you would find lots of microorganisms in the soil, but in Mars you would not see any,” Ostrover said.
“It is an amazing diversity.”
The researchers found the same diversity of microbes in Mars’ surface and in the deep oceans.
In addition, they found a lot less water in the ancient oceans than we are familiar with on Earth, as opposed to the vast oceans on Earth that we are used to.
Ostrovski said it is also interesting to think about what other processes might have been involved in the evolution of life in Mars.
“We can think about some of the environmental conditions that could have led to the existence of life and the ability to make chemicals,” he explained.
“So we really can think in terms of the evolutionary history of Mars and that is where the similarities with Earth come in.”