Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Asteroid craters on Earth give clues in search for life on Mars

Date:
April 17, 2012
Source:
University of Edinburgh
Summary:
Craters made by asteroid impacts may be the best place to look for signs of life on other planets, a study suggests.

A crater from a long-ago comet or asteroid impact in the Chesapeake Bay is buried beneath hundreds of feet of sediment.
Credit: Nicolle Rager-Fuller, NSF

Craters made by asteroid impacts may be the best place to look for signs of life on other planets, a study suggests. Tiny organisms have been discovered thriving deep underneath a site in the US where an asteroid crashed some 35 million years ago.

Scientists believe that the organisms are evidence that such craters provide refuge for microbes, sheltering them from the effects of the changing seasons and events such as global warming or ice ages.

Life forms

The study suggests that crater sites on Mars may also be hiding life, and that drilling beneath them could lead to evidence of similar life forms.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh drilled almost 2 km below one of the largest asteroid impact craters on Earth, in Chesapeake Bay, US.

Samples from below ground showed that microbes are unevenly spread throughout the rock, suggesting that the environment is continuing to settle 35 million years after impact.

Microbe nutrients

Scientists say that heat from the impact of an asteroid collision would kill everything at the surface.

However, fractures to rocks deep below would enable water and nutrients to flow in and support life.

Some organisms grow by absorbing elements such as iron from rock.

The research was published in the journal Astrobiology.

"The deeply fractured areas around impact craters can provide a safe haven in which microbes can flourish for long periods of time. Our findings suggest that the subsurface of craters on Mars might be a promising place to search for evidence of life," said Professor Charles Cockell, of the School of Physics and Astronomy. Cockell is first author of the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Edinburgh. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Charles S. Cockell, Mary A. Voytek, Aaron L. Gronstal, Kai Finster, Julie D. Kirshtein, Kieren Howard, Joachim Reitner, Gregory S. Gohn, Ward E. Sanford, J. Wright Horton, Jens Kallmeyer, Laura Kelly, David S. Powars. Impact Disruption and Recovery of the Deep Subsurface Biosphere. Astrobiology, 2012; 12 (3): 231 DOI: 10.1089/ast.2011.0722

Cite This Page:

University of Edinburgh. "Asteroid craters on Earth give clues in search for life on Mars." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417080541.htm>.
University of Edinburgh. (2012, April 17). Asteroid craters on Earth give clues in search for life on Mars. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417080541.htm
University of Edinburgh. "Asteroid craters on Earth give clues in search for life on Mars." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417080541.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) The B612 Foundation says asteroids strike Earth much more often than previously thought, and are hoping to build an early warning system. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) NASA administrator Charles Bolden, speaking at the 'Human to Mars Summit' in Washington, says that learning more about the Red Planet can help answer the 'fundamental question' of 'life beyond Earth'. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) NASA is inviting all social media users to take a selfie of themselves alongside nature and to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, or Google Plus with the hashtag #globalselfie. NASA's goal is to crowd-source a collection of snapshots of the earth, ground-up, that will be used to create one "unique mosaic of the Blue Marble." This image will be available to all in May. Since this is probably one of the few times posting a selfie to Twitter won't be embarrassing, we suggest you give it a go for a good cause. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 20, 2014) SpaceX's unmanned Dragon spacecraft makes a scheduled Easter Sunday rendezvous with the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins