2001 Annual Science Report
NASA Johnson Space Center Reporting | JUL 2000 – JUN 2001
Biogenic Mineral Weathering
This project now has three parts. First is documentation of weathering features on terrestrial minerals from various environments. Next is an experimental program which produces abiologic weathering on mineral surfaces, produces biologically assisted weathering, and compares the two. The biologically assisted weathering experiments also have a sterile control group. The third part of this project is to document likely and potential weathering features on Mars meteorite samples and to compare them to the data from the terrestrially weathered samples and the experimental samples. For the Mars meteorite samples, care must be taken to try to separate possible terrestrial weathering from martian weathering. This can be done to some extent using the fusion crust as a stratigraphic time marker separating terrestrial effects from Mars effects. Other techniques for doing this may include other microstratigraphy features, and hydrogen and carbon isotopic analysis. The overall goal is to understand mineral weathering features related to microbial activity, and to separate them from strictly abiotic weathering features.
PROJECT MEMBERS:Susan Wentworth
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 6.0
Define how ecophysiological processes structure microbial communities, influence their adaptation and evolution, and affect their detection on other planets.
Search for evidence of ancient climates, extinct life and potential habitats for extant life on Mars.