The Open UniversitySkip to content
 

The carbon cycle on early Earth—and on Mars?

Grady, Monica M. and Wright, Ian (2006). The carbon cycle on early Earth—and on Mars? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 361(1474) 1703 -1713.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2006.1898
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar

Abstract

One of the goals of the present Martian exploration is to search for evidence of extinct (or even extant) life. This could be redefined as a search for carbon. The carbon cycle (or, more properly, cycles) on Earth is a complex interaction among three reservoirs: the atmosphere; the hydrosphere; and the lithosphere. Superimposed on this is the biosphere, and its presence influences the fixing and release of carbon in these reservoirs over different time-scales. The overall carbon balance is kept at equilibrium on the surface by a combination of tectonic processes (which bury carbon), volcanism (which releases it) and biology (which mediates it). In contrast to Earth, Mars presently has no active tectonic system; neither does it possess a significant biosphere. However, these observations might not necessarily have held in the past. By looking at how Earth's carbon cycles have changed with time, as both the Earth's tectonic structure and a more sophisticated biology have evolved, and also by constructing a carbon cycle for Mars based on the carbon chemistry of Martian meteorites, we investigate whether or not there is evidence for a Martian biosphere.

Item Type: Journal Article
ISSN: 1471-2970
Keywords: Earth; Mars; carbon; cycle; life
Academic Unit/Department: Science > Physical Sciences
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)
Item ID: 6180
Depositing User: Users 6044 not found.
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2007
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2010 19:55
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/6180
Share this page:

Altmetrics

Scopus Citations

Actions (login may be required)

View Item
Report issue / request change

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   + 44 (0)870 333 4340   general-enquiries@open.ac.uk