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Ingredient for life more plentiful on early Mars than Earth

Last Updated: Monday, September 2, 2013 - 11:21

London: A lab-based physical simulation has claimed that minerals found in Mars, which are dissolved in groundwater, are likelier to have an important building block for life - phosphate - than dissolved minerals on Earth.

The news has come just days after a chemist theorised that only Mars had the right chemical elements - specifically boron, molybdenum and oxygen - which were there at the right time to produce RNA molecules, believed to be DNA`s precursor.

Christopher Adcock of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas findings focuses on phosphate, a molecule that is believed to have been made up of one phosphorus atom and four oxygen atoms.

Phosphate achieves maximum stability when it is in a solid form, so the phosphate, which was incorporated into early life was probably dissolved out of minerals by Oceans on Earth.

Phosphate minerals on Earth, like fluorapatite and whitlockite, take their time to dissolve, they are also not readily incorporated into a water-based solution, which is why their concentration are relatively low.

Instead of having fluorapatite, Mars has chlorapatite, where chlorine takes place of the fluorine component; it also has a phosphate-bearing mineral called merrillite , not found on Earth.

In addition, data from the Spirit and Opportunity have suggested that Mars has 5 - 10 times the amount of phosphate as Earth.

Adcock and colleagues also claimed that phosphate release rate for Mars rocks is going to be would be as much as 45 times higher than it is on Earth, so the concentrations of phosphate of a wet early Red Planet would have been more than twice those of Earth.


First Published: Monday, September 2, 2013 - 11:21
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