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Isle of Rum rocks to play a key function in Mars house mission

ANCIENT rocks from the Isle of Rum are enjoying an vital function in a global house mission to find extra about Mars.

A gaggle of scientists have this week been accumulating samples of rock from the NatureScot Nationwide Nature Reserve (NNR) as a part of the NASA and European House Company (ESA)’s Mars Pattern Return Marketing campaign.

The marketing campaign is assembling an outlined set of rock samples from around the globe which might be similar to rock samples from the Pink Planet which might be scheduled to be dropped at Earth in 2033.

On account of its distinctive geology, Rum, off the west coast of Scotland, has been chosen as the one UK web site for sampling.

The rocks on Rum have an analogous mineral and chemical content material to these which have been collected by NASA’s Perseverance Rover.

It is because a few of its igneous rocks have a really related mineral and chemical content material to these which have been collected by NASA’s Perseverance Rover throughout its exploration of an historical crater on Mars.

Intensive research of the rocks from Rum and different high-priority pattern websites will crucially assist scientists perceive what strategies of testing and evaluation will work greatest in readiness for when the Martian rocks are dropped at Earth.

As the primary samples from one other world, the Mars rocks are thought to current the perfect alternative to disclose clues in regards to the early evolution of the planet, together with the potential for previous life.

The Rum sampling is being led by Dr Lydia Hallis, a geologist and planetary scientist from the College of Geographical and Earth Sciences on the College of Glasgow, and member of the marketing campaign’s Science Group.

Dr Hallis mentioned: “These Rum rocks are a superb comparability to a selected geologic unit on Mars – the igneous Séítah Formation inside the Jezero crater – which is characterised by the mineral olivine, and which the NASA Perseverance Rover explored and sampled.

“Not solely is the mineralogy and chemistry related, however the two rocks seem to have an analogous quantity of weathering.

“This appears unusual once we assume how moist and heat Rum is in comparison with current day Mars, however billions of years in the past when the Séítah Formation crystallised on Mars the distinction in surroundings wouldn’t have been so pronounced.

“Right now Mars was a lot wetter and hotter, with a thicker ambiance which will even have produced rain (although not as a lot as we get in Scotland!).

“Over time the Martian ambiance thinned leaving the floor a lot dryer and colder, basically halting any additional weathering inside Séítah and preserving the rocks at Jezero Crater for us to research in the present day.”

NatureScot is Scotland’s nature company, responding to the dual crises of biodiversity loss and local weather change.