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Was there life on Mars? Answer may lie in shiny rock coating

Desert Varnish

According to a new research, a mysterious shiny coating found on rocks in many of Earth’s arid environments could reveal whether there was once life on Mars. The research, published in the July edition of the journal, Geology, reveals that the dark coating known as Desert Varnish creates a record of life around it, by binding traces of DNA, amino acids and other organic compounds to desert rocks. Samples of Martian desert varnish could therefore show whether there has been life on Mars at any stage over the last 4.5 billion years. The source of the varnish, which looks like it has been painted onto the rocks, has intrigued scientists since the mid nineteenth century, including Darwin, who was so fascinated that he asked the geochemist Berzelius to investigate it. It was previously suggested that its dark colour was the result of the presence of the mineral manganese oxide, and that any traces of life found within the varnish came from biological processes caused by microbes in this mineral.

via sciencedaily

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Posted by Editor on July 13, 2006.

Categories: Uncategorized

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