Ok, maybe we’ve heard it all before: scientists finding combinations of elements on Mars, and saying that maybe, MAYBE, they combine to make life in a form we Earthlings do not understand.
But this time, the elements found can make carbon-based life forms—like us!
The new discovery is that part of the Red Planet is Gray. Red comes from oxidized magnesium or iron sulfates, in acidic and super salty conditions. Recently, Curiosity drilled gray matter from the Gale Crater. The gray comes from clay minerals, which “are a product of the reaction of relatively fresh water,” rather than salty, and “[t]he presence of calcium sulfate along with the clay suggests the soil is neutral,” rather than acidic. In this gray matter, there was a mixture of oxidized and non-oxidized minerals, “providing an energy gradient of the sort many microbes on Earth exploit to live.”
We may have microbes, people!
The cool NASA photos above are X-rays that show how different elements throw off different patterns. That is part of how the scientists on this planet can analyze dirt samples on Mars without actually being there. The image on the right is of the gray matter. If we were NASA scientists, we could see that the different band pattern on the right indicates lack of salt and the presence of calcium sulfates, rather than magnesium or iron sulfates. For more information on the X-ray photos, click here.
Below is David Bowie singing “Life On Mars,” because who can think of NASA without thinking of Bowie?
Bowie’s new release is available on vinyl! (Is there life on digital?)