Intriguing Martian Meteorite Reveals “Huge Organic Diversity,” Scientists Say

Intriguing Martian Meteorite Reveals “Huge Organic Diversity,” Scientists Say

In a recent research published in Science ProgressAn international team of scientists led by the Technical University of Munich examined the Martian meteorite Tissint, which fell near the village of Tissint, Morocco, on July 18, 2011, finding pieces of the meteorite as far as about 50 kilometers away. from the village.

What makes Tissint intriguing is the presence of an “enormous organic diversity,” as noted in the study, that could help scientists better understand whether life ever existed on Earth. Marsand even the geological history of the Earth.

“Mars and Earth share many aspects of their evolution,” said Dr. Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin, who is the director of the Analytical Biochemistry research unit at the Technical University of Munich, and lead author of the study, in a pronunciation.

“And while life arose and thrived on our home planet, the question of whether it ever existed on Mars is a very popular research topic that requires a deeper understanding of our neighboring planet’s water, organic molecules and reactive surfaces.”

Piece of brown-gray rock with 1 cm cube marking to indicate size.
ALH 84001 meteorite. (NASA/Johnson Space Center)

Organic molecules are molecules made up of carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms, but can also contain oxygen, nitrogen, and other elements. The four primary classes of organic molecules include carbohydrates, proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids.

As seen on Earth, organic molecules are analogous to life, but the study notes that abiotic organic chemistry, non-biological processes, have been observed “in other Martian meteorites.”

“Understanding the processes and sequence of events that formed this rich organic bounty will reveal new details about the habitability of Mars and possibly the reactions that could lead to the formation of life,” Dr. Andrew Steele, a staff scientist at Carnegie Science, a member of the Mars Sample Return Campaign Science Group for NASA’s Perseverance rover, and a co-author of the study, said in a pronunciation.

Dr. Steele has also done extensive research on organic material found in Martian meteorites, including Tissint.

For the study, the researchers examined Tissint’s entire organic composition, identifying a “diverse chemistry and plethora of complex molecules,” as noted in the study, while also helping to explain past geological processes within the crust and mantle of the red planet.

The researchers also identified an abundance of organic magnesium compounds never before seen on Mars, which could provide new evidence about the geochemical processes that shaped Mars’ deep interior, while possibly linking the mineral evolution of the red planet and the carbon cycle.

NASA is coming Mars Sample Return mission could provide even more insight into both the organic and mineral composition of the red planet. Dr. Schmitt-Kopplin recently told Universe Today that such a mission could be just as successful as Japanese Hayabusa2 asteroid example of a return mission since they “were able to show that meteorites nicely reflected the chemistry found during the return mission, we will probably be able to do the same.”

You feel has a total weight of 7 kilograms (15 pounds) and is currently the fifth meteorite to be classified as being of Martian origin, with a Study from 2012 estimate that it was ejected from Mars by some violent event about 700,000 years ago.

Grayscale image of a blotchy microscopic landscape of meteorite with strange bumps that appear to be glued to it
Microscopic structures in ALH 84001 fragments initially interpreted as microfossils, but those findings have since been inconclusive. (NASA)

Tissint draws some parallels with one of the most famous Martian-origin meteorites found on Earth, ALH 84001which was the subject of much research in the late 1990s, when it was initially believed to contain microfossils, findings that have since become inconclusive.

“ALH 84001 was one of the most studied Martian meteorites because it was found in Antarctica and thus ‘preserved’ in the ice with little contamination,” Dr. Schmitt-Kopplin recently told Universe Today.

“That time when we looked at molecules of life in the diverse chemistry of that meteorite, and also saw biological-like features in microscopy, led us to conclude too quickly that we had found life on Mars.”

What new secrets of Mars will Tissint, future meteorites and the future samples sent back from Mars teach us about the red planet? Only time will tell, and this is why we have science!

This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.

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