New Mineralogical and Geochemical Characterization of Martian Meteorites: Implications for Habitability and Astrobiological Exploration of Mars
Master of Science
Roberta L. Flemming
Neil R. Banerjee
Mars is thought to have shared many similarities with the Earth during its history, leading to extensive research into the potential for life to arise on Mars. Here, a thorough mineralogical and geochemical characterization of primary and secondary phases in Martian meteorites Los Angeles, Zagami, and Nakhla was performed. This novel approach assesses their potential to host life and build on previous studies that focused on either astrobiological or geological factors. These meteorites were found to contain abundant iron-rich phases that can act as microbial substrates. Investigation of alteration phases in Nakhla allowed for the identification of a new secondary alteration assemblage and allowed for a reevaluation of aqueous environmental conditions. The subsurface horizons from which these meteorites are sourced represent potentially habitable substrates for microbial colonization, if aqueous environmental conditions were present. The methodologies developed here can be used to guide future Martian exploration and Mars sample return missions.
Shivak, Jared N., "New Mineralogical and Geochemical Characterization of Martian Meteorites: Implications for Habitability and Astrobiological Exploration of Mars" (2013). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 1613.