Thursday May 23, 2019
Home Science & Technology Scientists fi...

Scientists find Mars surface replica in India

1
//
photo credits :http://www.redorbit.com

Kolkata: Why wait for a million-dollar ticket to Mars when you can have an inter-planetary experience a la Oscar nominated blockbuster “The Martian” right here in India?

One simply needs to head over to the western Indian state of Gujarat to glimpse the remarkable rocky landscape similar to the Red planet.

A replica or “terrestrial analogue” of the Martian surface has been discovered in the state, thanks to Indian scientists from the Space Applications Centre (SAC-ISRO) in Ahmedabad, Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur and the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) in Hyderabad.

The team identified and documented the presence of a rare mineral jarosite through spectroscopic studies in Matanumadh area (86 km northwest of Bhuj) in Kachch district of Gujarat, a finding which links it to the Red planet. This work is part of a programme initiated by SAC-ISRO under its Mars mission.

“The landscape of Matanumadh with its unusual mineral assemblage, including jarosite, in a basalt terrain, mimics the geological environment of many of the identified jarosite localities on Mars,” Saibal Gupta, professor in Department of Geology and Geophysics at IIT-Kharagpur, told reporters.

Presence of the rare mineral was reported from various parts of the surface of the Red planet by NASA’s Mars exploration rover Opportunity in 2004. Since then, other rovers have detected jarosite at several localities on the planet’s surface.

The fact that jarosite is found in limited natural terrestrial environments means “extreme and unusual” conditions are required for its formation and stabilisation.

“The Martian surface must, at some time, have experienced these conditions. Thus, the positive identification of jarosite, in addition to the previously reported minerals natroalunite and minamiite, is a major argument in favour of the Matanumadh Formation representing a Martian analog locality,” contended Souvik Mitra, of IIT-Kharagpur.

In fact, as a clone, the Indian site more closely resembles the Martian surface than known Western Australian jarosite localites, note the researchers in the study published in the Journal ofGeophysical Research: Planets in March.

The significance of the discovery is multi-fold and could have implications in the way we explore the Martian surface.

NASA is working to send humans to Mars in the 2030s, but there are many milestones to accomplish to ensure that astronauts come back to the Earth safely, the space agency says on its website.

“The two essential conditions for jarosite formation are near-surface acidic water and oxidizing conditions. Understanding how jarosite formed in the Matanumadh Formation may shed light on the final stages of aqueous (water-based) activity in parts of the Martian surface,” said Mitra. Last year, NASA scientists found evidence of flowing water on Mars.

Mitra envisages if the local tourism authorities can educate the locals about the site and its link to Mars, then it could also benefit regional tourism.

Most importantly, in addition to sending up sophisticated robots and probes on Mars to study it, investigations could be carried out right at the Matanumadh Formation at a reduced cost, to understand what transpired on Mars a few billion years ago, according to Gupta.

“This is no substitute to human exploration of the Martian surface, but that could be quite some time in the future. Till then, these analog localities provide a starting point for knowing what to expect.”

“In fact, this work is a demonstration of what collaboration between scientists from different organisations within India can do, and SAC-ISRO is to be commended for this endeavour,” Gupta added. (IANS)

  • Akanksha Sharma

    This is amazing.

Next Story

Sony Mobile Exit India Market Owing to Hyper- Competition

Sony Mobile would continue to monitor the market situations and business feasibility in the country

0
Sony Mobile, India
the pressure from Chinese brands and Samsung in the major price segment resulted in continuous decline of sales for Sony. Pixabay

Facing stiff competition from Chinese and South Korean players, Japanese conglomerate Sony Corporation has announced to quit the Indian smartphone market.

Sony had less that 0.01 per cent of the total Indian smartphone market share in the first quarter of 2019, according to Counterpoint Research.

Sony Mobile, however, said that it would continue to monitor the market situations and business feasibility in the country.

“Our focus markets are Japan, Europe, Hong Kong and Taiwan to drive profitability and future prospects in the 5G era,” Sony Mobile said in a statement on Wednesday.

Sony Mobile, India, Market
Sony Corporation has announced to quit the Indian smartphone market. Pixabay

“We have ceased sales in Central and South America, the Middle East, South Asia, Oceania, etc. in FY 18,” it added.

The company assured that it would continue its customer support operations including after sales support and software updates for existing customers in India.

The India smartphone market is currently dominated by Chinese players like Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo and OnePlus among others, besides South Korean tech giant Samsung.

According to Shobhit Srivastava, Research Analyst, Mobile Devices and Ecosystems, Counterpoint Research, the pressure from Chinese brands and Samsung in the major price segment resulted in continuous decline of sales for Sony.

Also Read- Bulgeria, Greece Launches Gas Pipeline from Azerbaijan to Ease Dependence on Russia Supplies

“With declining sales in India and other markets, Sony took the right decision to focus on the high ASP (average selling price) markets such as Japan,” Srivastava told IANS.

Sony India in July last year brought its flagship “Xperia XZ2” smartphone for Rs 72,990 to India that turned out to be its last launch.

“In a cut-throat market like India where Chinese smartphone brands rule the roost with industry-leading specs and having over 60 per cent market share, it’s tough for other brands to garner a meaningful revenue share. Sony has had a very miniscule market share in India,” Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR, told IANS.

For Sony, the performance of its mobile business has lacked the sheen, and has been a clear outlier compared to its other divisions.

Sony Mobile, India, Market
Sony had less that 0.01 per cent of the total Indian smartphone market share in the first quarter of 2019. Wikimedia Commons

“It makes sense for it to cut its losses and refocus on other verticals,” Ram added. (IANS)