Quirks & Quarks

Looking for life inside the red planet

Marsquakes key to finding life in the red planet
On Mars there are ‘Marsquakes’ which may produce hydrogen in the same way as on Earth (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The friction of rocks moving against one another in an earthquake or as a result of a meteorite impact produces hydrogen gas. Much of the gas dissipates, but some becomes trapped in the new rock that is generated called pseudotachylite rock. Because it is known that hydrogen gas is key to providing microbial life deep within the Earth, scientists including Dr. Sean McMahon, an astrobiologist at Yale University, have surmised that the same could be true below the surface of Mars. The Red planet experiences similar seismic activity - called "Marsquakes" - as the Earth.  This research will help NASA's InSight mission pinpoint where to look for such life when it begins its mission in the coming years.

These pseudotachylites — fine grained rocks — are from the British Isles. (University of Aberdeen)

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