Scientists from Oxford University by studying the differences between Martian meteorites and rocks examined by a NASA rover, can give evidence if Mars had an oxygen-rich atmosphere 4 billion years ago. A billion years before the rise of atmospheric oxygen on Earth. Image © NASA
The fact that the surface rocks of the red planet are five times richer in nickel than the meteorites was puzzling and had cast doubt on whether the meteorites are typical volcanic products of the red planet.
Professor Bernard Wood, of Oxford University’s Department of Earth Sciences, who led the research reported in this week’s Nature, said:
“What we have shown is that both meteorites and surface volcanic rocks are consistent with similar origins in the deep interior of Mars but that the surface rocks come from a more oxygen-rich environment, probably caused by recycling of oxygen-rich materials into the interior.
This result is surprising because while the meteorites are geologically ‘young’, around 180 million to 1400 million years old, the Spirit rover was analyzing a very old part of Mars, more than 3700 million years old.”
source University of Oxford