Do Antartica and Mars have something in common?2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
All Things Science
Well, the researchers who bore one-mile deep into Antartic ice will reply with a resounding ‘yes’! All thanks to this beautiful mineral—
Scientists have found the martian mineral, jarosite, in Antartica. Jarosite requires both water and acidic conditions for its formation, making Mars an ideal candidate for its presence.
Owliver’s Obscure Observations
Mars is red but do not let the fiery colour fool you! It can get very cold with an average temperature of -62.8 degree celsius. It has a rocky surface with canyons, volcanoes and craters covering its surface. It is covered by red dust.Mars also has clouds and wind just like the Earth. Speculations indicate that at some point in history, Mars also had water.
Jarosite was first discovered on Mars by the Opportunity Rover in 2004.
the Opportunity Rover .
But how did jarosite get to Mars?
In one of the theories, scientists trace it back to when the planet was covered in ice, some billion years ago trapping the minerals essential to jarosite’s formation—iron, sulfate and potassium. The ice could have provided the water needed for the acidic formation. But scientists had never seen dust and ice chemically react to create a mineral.
The discovery is Antartica may change that!
Scientists found grain-like traces of jarosite after pulling a mile long (1,620 meters) ice core from the ground. Jarosite was resting in the deepest layers of the sample. After observing the sample under a microscope, the team figured out that jarosite was formed in pockets within the ice.
The presence of jarosite in Antarctica may provide answers to the mineral’s presence on the friendly planet, Mars!
On Mars, jarosite appears in thicker slabs, possibly owing to the presence of more dust. On Earth, it is found close to volcanoes. Antarctica came as a surprise!
This discovery just goes out to prove that the universe is more connected than we can imagine! After all, the earth from a distance is just a pale blue dot, and the universe too large.
(All Things Science is a weekly column on astronomy, space and science)