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Mars Hematite Site: Potential for Preservation of MicrofossilsDefining locations where conditions may have been favorable for life is a key objective for the exploration of Mars. Of prime importance are sites where conditions may have been favorable for the preservation of evidence of pre-biotic or biotic processes. Areas displaying significant concentrations of the mineral hematite (alpha-Fe2O3) have been identified from orbit by thermal emission spectrometry. The largest such deposit, in Sinus Meridiani, is a strong candidate landing site for one of the twin Mars Exploration Rovers, scheduled to launch in 2003. The Martian hematite site may have significance in the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Since iron oxides can form as aqueous mineral precipitates, the potential exists for preserving microscopic evidence of life in ecosystems that deposit iron oxides. Terrestrial hematite deposits proposed as possible analogs for the hematite sites on Mars include massive (banded) iron formations, iron oxide hydrothermal deposits, iron-rich laterites and ferricrete soils, and rock varnish. We are engaged in a systematic effort to document the evidence of life preserved in iron oxide deposits from each of these environments.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Document Type
Conference Paper
Allen, Carlton C.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Westall, Frances
(Orleans Univ. France)
Longazo, Teresa
(Hernandez Engineering, Inc. Houston, TX, United States)
Schelble, Rachel
(University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA, United States)
Probst, Luke
(Rice Univ. Houston, TX, United States)
Flood, Beverly
(Texas A&M Univ. Galveston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
March 1, 2003
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Science XXXIV
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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