Sunday February 18, 2018
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Scientists find Mars surface replica in India

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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

RSS’ call to re-mould Indian Constitution

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat says that the Army takes six to seven months to train its soldiers, the RSS can get its cadres ready for battle in two to three days

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The Sangh Parivar, better known as the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) celebrated the 125th anniversary of the song in 2002
The Sangh Parivar, better known as the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) celebrated the 125th anniversary of the song in 2002. Wikimedia Commons
  • RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) is a is an Indian right-wing
  • RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat expressed his views on Indian Army’s preparation in his speech to RSS workers in Muzaffarpur in Bihar
  • Kiren Rijiju said if the Constitution permits, RSS can go ahead with its interference in military matters.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh wants to re-mould the Indian State with a military which adheres to Hindutva, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has said.

This is the message that emerges from RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s speech to RSS workers in Muzaffarpur in Bihar that while the Army takes six to seven months to train its soldiers, the RSS can get its cadres ready for battle in two to three days, the CPI-M said.

“This remark has drawn widespread condemnation, with the main criticism being that the RSS chief had insulted the Indian army by claiming that the RSS can do a better job than the Army in training soldiers,” an editorial in the CPI-M journal “People’s Democracy,” said.

Also Read: Story 20 Amazing Facts About Indian Navy That Everyone Should Know

“While this criticism is valid, the intent of these remarks is much more serious,” it said. “The statement has revealed a vital aspect of the RSS outlook about the Army and the militarization of society.”

The editorial said: “What the RSS wants in the re-moulding of the Indian State is armed forces which adhere to Hindutva. For Bhagwat, the soldier in the Indian Army and the Swayamsevak of the RSS are on the same footing.

RSS support Hindus
RSS world’s largest organisation promote Hindutva.

“Under the present Indian Constitution, such an integration of the Army and the RSS is not possible.

Also Read: All you want to know about the ranks of Indian Army

That is why, both the RSS clarification and the defence put out by (Minister of State for home) Kiren Rijiju makes this qualification that if the Constitution permits, the RSS can go ahead with its interference in military matters.

“The implication is ominous: a re-worked Constitution should enable this to happen.”