Thanks to a highly powerful electron microscope, a research team at the University of Glasgow says that there may be proof of fossilized life in the depths of the craters of the red planet, Mars. Precisely, they have found gemstones which might contain traces of fossilized life.
Fragments of opal were discovered in a meteorite from Mars; scientists have their hopes up of its use in future exploration mission since it can be an indicator to look for possible evidence of life.
Opal was intriguing enough to find since we are now aware that it has the ability to preserve fossils, plus we also know it will form around hot springs where microbial life thrives.
The researchers say that they discovered the opal within a 1.7 gram fraction of a meteorite from Mars, a rock they termed Nakhla.
“The slice of Nakhla that we have is small, and the amount of fire opal we’ve found in it is even smaller, but our discovery of opal is significant for a couple of reasons,” explains lead author Professor Martin Lee.
Lee goes on to say, “Firstly, it definitively confirms findings from NASA’s imaging and exploration of the Martian surface which appeared to show deposits of opal. This is the first time that a piece of Mars here on Earth has been shown to contain opal. Secondly, we know that on Earth opals like these are often formed in and around hot springs.”
Finally, he notes, “Microbial life thrives in these conditions, and opal can trap and preserve these microbes for millions of years. If Martian microbes existed, it’s possible they too may be preserved in opal deposits on the surface of Mars. Closer study of Martian opals by future missions to Mars could well help us learn more about the planet’s past and whether it once held life.”