2002 Annual Science Report
NASA Johnson Space Center Reporting | JUL 2001 – JUN 2002
Hematite on Mars: Implications for Astrobiology
Our approach consists of three parts: First, we are evaluating literature data on the occurrence of low temperature, aqueous deposited hematite. Such deposits include some banded iron formations (BIFs), as desert varnish and other iron-rich deposits in the geologic record. Next, we are undertaking a laboratory study of samples containing iron oxides to document the hematite occurrences, the chemistry of the rock and its oxides, and the presence or absence of morphologic biomarkers such as fossil microbes, filaments, or biofilm. Finally, we are applying the results to an evaluation of hematite sites on Mars as identified by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS).
This project is also related to our Rock Varnish project, which is identifying iron and manganese oxides and hydroxides associated with alteration zones or coatings on rocks.
PROJECT MEMBERS:Carlton Allen
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 5.0
Describe the sequences of causes and effects associated with the development of Earth's early biosphere and the global environment.
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.
Refine planetary protection guidelines and develop protection technology for human and robotic missions.