In Brief:

Mars research focuses on past habitability

Researchers are investigating new clues about the red planet.
Researchers are investigating new clues about the red planet.
Image: NASA.
Slowly but surely, scientists are putting together evidence that Mars once hosted life.

     In a study released this week, scientists took a step toward understanding whether Mars once had favorable environmental conditions for microbial life.
     Zinc and germanium have been discovered in sedimentary rocks in Gale Crater by the NASA rover Curiosity, according to research published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets.
     The significance is that zinc and germanium “tend to cluster together in high temperature fluids and often occur together on Earth in hydrothermal deposits containing sulfur,” according to the American Geophysical Union. “Extreme thermal environments on Earth are home to a diverse array of microbial life adapted to these conditions, and these organisms may have been some of the first to evolve on Earth.”
     The research is Zinc and germanium in the sedimentary rocks of Gale Crater on Mars indicate hydrothermal enrichment followed by diagenetic fractionation, Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets, Aug. 23, by Jeff A. Berger, et al.

SNOWFALL ON MARS: Scientists believe that the red planet has rapid snowfalls at night.
    Research reported this week in the journal Nature Geoscience concludes that localized rapid snowfalls occur in the red planet's atmosphere.
    Mars contains less water vapor than Earth’s atmosphere, but the planet's atmosphere hosts clouds, the scientists point out. Using computer simulations, they found that these snowstorms or “ice microbursts” occur only during the Martian night.   
    The research is Snow precipitation on Mars driven by cloud-induced night-time convection,published in Nature Geoscience,  Aug. 21, by Aymeric Spiga, et al.


     Three takeaways about the red planet

     Mars in Brief: More evidence of habitable environment

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