Magnetism, iron minerals, and life on Mars

P. Rochette, J. Gattacceca, V. Chevrier, P. E. Mathé, M. Menvielle, P. Brauer, P. Dussoulliez, C. Fabron, L. Hood, P. A. Jensen, B. Langlais, S. L. Larsen, M. B. Madsen, J. Merayo, G. Mussmann, H. Newsom, E. Petrovsky, F. Primdahl, G. Sarraco, F. VadeboinS. Vennerstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

A short critical review is provided on two questions linking magnetism and possible early life on Mars: (1) Did Mars have an Earth-like internal magnetic field, and, if so, during which period and was it a requisite for life? (2) Is there a connection between iron minerals in the martian regolith and life? We also discuss the possible astrobiological implications of magnetic measurements at the surface of Mars using two proposed instruments. A magnetic remanence device based on magnetic field measurements can be used to identify Noachian age rocks and lightning impacts. A contact magnetic susceptibility probe can be used to investigate weathering rinds on martian rocks and identify meteorites among the small regolith rocks. Both materials are considered possible specific niches for microorganisms and, thus, potential astrobiological targets. Experimental results on analogues are presented to support the suitability of such in situ measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-436
Number of pages14
JournalAstrobiology
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2006

Keywords

  • Early life
  • Iron minerals
  • Magnetism
  • Mars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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