Martian meteorite Tissint is supersaturated with organic compounds

(ORDO NEWS) — To date, only five “Martian meteorites” have been found that have reached the earth’s surface.

One of them, the Tissint meteorite, fell in Morocco in 2012, 50 kilometers from the city after which it got its name.

So, a new study has shown that this space rock is supersaturated with organic compounds . Recall that organic compounds are compounds that contain carbon.

In addition to carbon, they almost always contain hydrogen, quite often – oxygen, nitrogen and halogens, less often – phosphorus, sulfur and other elements.

On Earth , living organisms are usually responsible for the production of organic compounds, but this is not a necessary condition.

We don’t know if Mars was ever inhabited, but the presence of organic compounds indicates that this is a very plausible scenario.

Nevertheless, the abiotic pathway for the emergence of intriguing organic compounds is primarily considered.

“The evolutionary paths of Mars and Earth are very similar in many ways,” said Philipp Schmitt-Kopplin, a metabolomics expert at the Technical University of Munich (Germany) and lead author of the study.

“However, in the end, life arose on our home planet, which still thrives. Therefore, the question of whether it ever existed on Mars is a very relevant topic of research.”

A team of researchers led by Schmitt-Kopplin identified and cataloged the organic compounds found in the Martian meteorite.

In addition, scientists were able to link them to specific mineralogy, which provided insight into the geological processes responsible for the formation of these compounds.

“Understanding the processes and sequence of events that are responsible for the formation of this rich organic abundance will reveal new details about the habitability of Mars and potentially about the mechanisms that can lead to the emergence of life,” said Andrew Steele, co-author of the study from the Carnegie Institution (USA).

Martian meteorite Tissint is supersaturated with organic compounds 2
The surface of Mars, photographed by the NASA Curiosity rover

One of the most interesting discoveries was the discovery of organomagnesium compounds that had never been seen before on Mars.

This indicates a special relationship between the carbon cycle of the planet and the evolution of its rocks.

Most likely, the joint mission of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), which involves the delivery of Martian rock samples to Earth, will allow us to better understand these hidden processes and learn a lot of new things.

Like all other Martian meteorites, Tissint is only a tiny piece of the Red Planet, which was thrown into outer space as a result of a strong impact of some cosmic body that fell on the surface of a neighboring planet hundreds of millions or even several billion years ago.

For an unknown amount of time, Tissint traveled through interplanetary space before entering our planet’s atmosphere and reaching its surface.

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