NASA testing exclusive material in Scotland to find clues about life on Mars

December 8th, 2009 - 1:30 pm ICT by ANI  

London, December 8 (ANI): NASA scientists are testing a mineral only found in Aberdeenshire in Scotland to see if it can provide clues about life on Mars. According to a report by BBC News, the element, known as Macaulayite, is only believed to exist at a quarry at the foot of Bennachie in Aberdeenshire. Researchers think it could be the same mineral which gives Mars its red colour. Samples have now been sent to a testing centre in California in an attempt to verify its presence. Macaulayite was discovered by researchers from Aberdeen’s Macaulay Institute in the late 1970s.The mineral is formed in the presence of water; so if it does occur on the surface of Mars, it could provide proof the planet can sustain life. It is formed from granite which has been weathered by tropical climates from before the last Ice Age. “It is exciting because this particular mineral contains water. It’s a very fine grain mineral and water is bound to the inner surfaces,” said mineralogist Jeff Wilson, leader of the team which found the material.”There’s been a lot of speculation about the occurrence of water on Mars. We don’t know, but it could be associated with this mineral,” he added. According to Dr Janice Bishop, a Mars specialist from the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence Institute, “All life forms as we know it require liquid water; so if we can actually find periods of time or places on the planet where there was standing water, then the chance of life having formed increase greatly.” (ANI)

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