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Analysis by Virginia Tech geophysicists challenges the notion that life arose naturalistically on Mars. The team analyzed the jarosite mineral recently detected by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. Rather than proving that Mars once provided a warm, wet environment conducive for the origin and proliferation of life, the discovery instead demonstrates that liquid water only briefly existed on Mars, in limited amounts, and under chemical conditions toxic for life’s origin and survival. Moreover, they demonstrated that the survival to the present time of jarosite on Mars, in combination with residual basalt, proves that Mars has remained extremely arid since the time of the formation of Martian jarosite. The team’s analysis adds to the weight of evidence that Mars is far more inhospitable for life than previously thought and Earth is much more exquisitely fine-tuned for life than previously thought.
- M. E. Elwood Madden, R. J. Bodnar, and J. D. Rimstidt, “Jarosite as an Indicator of Water-Limited Chemical Weathering on Mars,” Nature 431 (2004): 821-23.
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