Hello, gentle blog reader,
Opals, my favorite gem, have been discovered on Mars, which means there must have been water there too. Just imagine ancient Martians bedecked in jewelry–I love it!
Oct. 29, 2008 — Opals have long been prized for their luster and beauty but the discovery that they also exist on Mars is proving to be gem of another variety.
The deposits, spotted from orbit by a NASA probe, indicate Mars may have been wet for a billion years longer than previously thought. If true, that could have significant impacts for whether the planet was suitable to host life.
“Water may have existed as recently as two billion years ago,” said John Hopkins University’s Scott Murchie, a lead scientist with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter team. “It extends the time range for liquid water on Mars, and the places where it might have supported life.”
The finding of a new category of hydrated minerals on Mars was reported in the November issue of Geology. The silica-based deposits are the third — and most significantly, the youngest — type of water-containing mineral discovered on Mars.
The oldest hydrated materials are clay-like phyllosilicates, which formed more than 3.5 billion years ago when volcanic rocks bathed for long periods of time in water. Later, hydrated sulfates formed when salty and occasionally acidic water evaporated.