There’s long been much speculation about the possible existence of micro-organisms on the Red Planet. Now, a recent study has shown that there may well be a connection between opal and life on Mars.
But first we need to talk about Nakhla. What is it? Well, on the 28th of June, 1911, a strange event happened in the farthermost country of north-eastern Africa – Egypt. A meteorite fell at an angle of about 30 degrees. It had come from Mars, where it had been pushed by a very strange force.
After it had landed, It left behind two things. The first: debris weighing in at around 22 pounds scattered around a 2.8 miles area of the Egyptian ground. The second: a story about a dog that had been hit by one of the pieces. Although there a large number of witnesses, the latter remains just a very popular myth among astronomers.
Of the first, though, there are still many pieces. Of these pieces, there was one that weighed over four pounds. Other two were given as a donation to the Natural History Museum.
The meteorite was given the name Nakhla, after the city in Egypt close to which it fell back in 1911. The pieces of the rock have been a constant subject of research since then. Recently, a new study made by researchers from the University of Glasgow has uncovered some interesting evidence. They say that the meteorite contains very little fragments of opal.
These findings confirm those of the Martian rovers Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity. But what do they mean?
Opal is a fiery gemstone found Earth that has been used in jewelry. It has a very nice color combination of yellow, red, and orange. Yet, the most important fact is that opal’s usually found in areas teeming with microscopic life like hot-springs. These microscopic organisms can be well preserved in the opal formations.
The research team encourages scientists working on Mars projects to further look for opal deposits, since they could contain fossilized versions of microbes which effectively lived on Mars in the early days, when the planet was green.
Other research has recently raised the possibility of there being puddles of liquid water formed now and then at night on the Martian soil. These two could contain microbial life and could be subject to further study.
Although it has been proven that there is water on Mars, we still know very little about where exactly it can be found and whether in would withstand the thin atmosphere and the solar radiations that bombard the planet due to it.