In February 2021, NASA’s spacecraft Perseverance rose onto the dusty surface of Mars. For many years, the vehicle roamed around and gathered samples to answer the question David Bowie raised in 1971 in Life on Mars.
Not until 2030 does NASA intend to send the samples back to Earth, but material from Mars is already being experimented with in the form of meteorites. In a recent study published in the journal Science Advances on May 11, 2022, an approximately 1.3 billion-year-old meteorite was studied by an international research team by using advanced scanning.
Josefin Martell, a geology doctoral student at Lund University, explains that “Since water is central to the question of whether life ever existed on Mars, we wanted to investigate how much of the meteorite reacted with water when it was still part of the Mars bedrock,” He added “A more probable explanation is that the reaction took place after small accumulations of underground ice melted during a meteorite impact about 630 million years ago. Of course, that doesn’t mean that life couldn’t have existed in other places on Mars or that there couldn’t have been life at other times,”.
The researchers expect the results of their study to be helpful when NASA brings back the first Mars samples around the year 2030, and there are many reasons to believe that the current technology will be useful with neutron and X-ray tomography when this happens.
Josefin Martell concluded that “It would be fun if we had the opportunity to study these samples at the research facility European Spallation Source, ESS in Lund, which by then will be the world’s most powerful neutron source,”