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Searching for signatures of life on Mars: an Fe isotope perspective

Anand, M.; Russell, S.S.; Blackhurst, R.L. and Grady, M.M. (2006). Searching for signatures of life on Mars: an Fe isotope perspective. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 361(1474) pp. 1715–1720.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2006.1899
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Abstract

Recent spacecraft and lander missions to Mars have reinforced previous interpretations that Mars was a wet and warm planet in the geological past. The role of liquid water in shaping many of the surface features on Mars has long been recognized. Since the presence of liquid water is essential for survival of life, conditions on early Mars might have been more favourable for the emergence and evolution of life. Until a sample return mission to Mars, one of the ways of studying the past environmental conditions on Mars is through chemical and isotopic studies of Martian meteorites. Over 35 individual meteorite samples, believed to have originated on Mars, are now available for lab-based studies. Fe is a key element that is present in both primary and secondary minerals in the Martian meteorites. Fe-isotope ratios can be fractionated by low-temperature processes which includes biological activity. Experimental investigations of Fe reduction and oxidation by bacteria have produced large fractionation in Fe-isotope ratios. Hence, it is considered likely that if there is/were any form of life present on Mars then it might be possible to detect its signature by Fe-isotope studies of Martian meteorites. In the present study, we have analysed a number of Martian meteorites for their bulk-Fe-isotope composition. In addition, a set of terrestrial analogue material has also been analysed to compare the results and draw inferences. So far, our studies have not found any measurable Fe-isotopic fractionation in bulk Martian meteorites that can be ascribed to any low-temperature process operative on Mars.

Item Type: Journal Article
ISSN: 1471-2970
Keywords: Mars; Martian meteorites; SNC; terrestrial analogues; iron isotopes; life
Academic Unit/Department: Science > Environment, Earth and Ecosystems
Science > Physical Sciences
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)
Item ID: 5612
Depositing User: Mahesh Anand
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2006
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2010 19:54
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/5612
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