Life could have originated in Martian mud

Note the hexagonal shapes. Sometimes, when I have soapy water in the sink — the soap film on top forms these same hexagonal shapes. There is a thermodynamical explanation about these hexagons (lowest Gibbs Free Energy)… Allow viral particles to crystallize in a dish of saline water; they’ll do the same thing… 😊😊

Life could have originated in Martian mud

A cracked Martian surface

Hexagonal cracks discovered on Mars by NASA’s Curiosity rover could only have formed during long cycles of wet and dry conditions.

David Bowie once asked, “Is there life on Mars?” The short answer is probably not—the Red Planet we know today is an uninhabitable wasteland periodically wracked with dust storms. But the Martian landscape looked quite different millions of years ago, when liquid water cascaded through its rivers and lakes.

Now, NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered patterns of hexagon-shaped cracks in an ancient, dried-out lake basin on Mars. They resemble patterns found on Earth in places like Death Valley, where they form after years of alternating wet and dry conditions that cause the ground to expand and contract. The discovery, reported this week in Nature, suggests that prehistoric Mars had an Earth-like climate, with long periods of wetting and drying.

This type of climate could possibly have allowed the chemistry of life to emerge on Mars, scientists say. Biological reactions use long chains of molecules called polymers, which require water to form. Too much water, however, will dilute the chemical “soup,” preventing molecular components from sticking together. Wet-dry cycling, which strikes a balance between the two conditions, “could possibly be key to the origin of life,” says lead author William Rapin, a planetary scientist at the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology in France.

So perhaps Bowie should have been asking, “Was there life on Mars? And if there was, where did it go?

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