An impact crater containing deposits of glass could hold clues for understanding life on Mars. Discovered by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the glass is believed to be the byproduct of the intense heat generated by a violent impact.
Glass in and of itself isn’t necessarily indicative of life, however in 2014, researchers discovered evidence of organic plant life entombed in glass found in Argentina from millions of years ago. Researchers hope that the same could hold true for Mars: that glass deposits hold important biosignatures of ancient Martian life.
The researchers’ analysis suggests glass deposits are relatively common impact features on Mars. These areas could be targets for future exploration as our robotic scientific explorers pave the way on the journey to manned mission to Mars in the 2030s.
Conveniently, one of the glass-containing craters is located within close proximity to the Nili Fossae trough, which has already been identified as a possible landing site for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission. The mission aims to collect soil and rock samples that could potentially be returned to Earth and analyzed and hopefully not unleash a hellish space-plague.