Probing life on Mars: implication of a


image: In the center, we can see (a) the sampling sites of Dalangtan and Qarhan in the Qaidam basin; (b) distribution of surface samples; (c) the DLT-P3 section; d) section CEH-P3.
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Credit: © Science China Press

Astrobiology is a scientific field that studies the origin, evolution and distribution of life and habitability in the universe. Mars is the most promising planet for the discovery of extraterrestrial life in the solar system; thus, the exploration of Martian life and the habitable environment has been a particular goal of planetary science.

Salt deposits are prime targets for exploring traces of life on Mars, including possible organic molecules of biogenic origin. As no Martian samples have returned to Earth, and humans are unable to reach Mars for experiments to date, analogy research on Earth is the primary method of studying life in the deposits. of Martian salt.

Continuing drought, strong ultraviolet radiation and various landforms made the Qaidam Basin an ideal analogue site for Martain. In this article, Dr Cheng (School of Geography and Tourism, Guangdong University of Finance and Economics) and Dr Xiao (State Key Laboratory of Geological Processes and Mineral Resources, Institute of Planetary Sciences, China University of Geosciences) determine the lipid distribution of the saline sediments of the Qaidam Basin (see image below) and compare these results with those of similar sites typical of Martain.

The team found that salt samples in the Qaidam basin are enriched with fatty acid compounds, GDGTs and archaeol compounds were also detected in these salt samples. Compared to hypersaline samples, clay samples not only have a greater abundance of fatty acids, GDGT, and archaeal compounds, but also a more diverse lipid composition. The distribution of lipids in the salt deposits of the Qaidam Basin provides an important benchmark for Mars.

See the article:

Characteristics of lipid distribution of saline sediments in the Qaidam basin and their astrobiological importance

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