A new study has shown the asteroid impact on ancient Mars could have produced ingredients for life on Mars & # 39; atmosphere was rich in hydrogen. Researchers on the sample analysis of curiosity on the Mars (SAM) instrument said a hydrogen-rich atmosphere would explain how the planet was habitable. The ingredients are nitrites (NO2) and nitrates (NO3).
Both nitrates are important for establishing and maintaining life.
The rover discovered both ingredients in soil and rock samples within Gale Crater which is the site of ancient lakes on Mars.
Scientists recreated the early martial atmosphere to understand how solid nitrogen may have been deposited in the crater.
They found that the red planet may have been warmer earlier
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Dr Rafael Navarro-González said : "The great surprise was that the nitrate yield increased when hydrogen is included in the laser-shocked experiments that simulated the asteroid impact." This was contra-intuitive because hydrogen leads to an oxygen-deficient environment while nitrate formation requires oxygen. "The presence of hydrogen, however, to a faster cooling of the shock absorption d gas, capture nitric oxide, the precursor of nitrate, at elevated temperatures where its yield was higher. "
Climate models show hydrogen in the atmosphere is necessary to raise the temperatures to have liquid at the surface of the planet.
Christopher McKay explained the presence of nitrate is of" great astrobiological significance. "
He said," Because of The low levels of nitrogen in the atmosphere are nitrate the only biologically useful nitrogen form on Mars. Its presence in the earth has great astrobiological significance.
"This document helps us understand the possible sources of that nitrate."