The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has discovered deposits of glass on Mars that could contain evidence about past life on the planet. The actual survey was published earlier this week in the journal Geology.
Kevin Cannon, a Ph.D. student at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and leader of the Martian glass survey said in an official statement: “The work done by Pete and others showed us that glasses are potentially important for preserving biosignatures. Knowing that, we wanted to go look for them on Mars and that’s what we did here. Before this paper no one had been able to definitively detect them on the surface.”
Cannon and the research team utilized the spectra of light reflected off the red planet’s surface to identify the glass. This is reportedly a method that is often utilized to identify alien rocks and minerals from great distances. Glass is said to be harder to notice because it has a significantly “weak spectral signal.”
Survey co-author Jack Mustard, a professor of Earth, environmental and planetary sciences at Brown University added: “Glasses tend to be spectrally bland or weakly expressive, so signatures from the glass tend to be overwhelmed by the chunks of rock mixed in with it but Kevin found a way to tease that signal out.”
Specifically, Cannon came up with a blend of Martian sediment and glass in their laboratory oven. He then identified its spectral signal in close proximity. The investigative group then sought out that exact signal amongst the information gathered by CRISM (the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars) which is a tool on board NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Mustard concluded: “If you had an impact that dug in and sampled that subsurface environment, it’s possible that some of it might be preserved in a glassy component. That makes this a pretty compelling place to go look around, and possibly return a sample.”
NASA Probe Finds Glass On Mars