Researchers from the Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans (LMV / UCA / CNRS / IRD / UJM, Clermont-Ferrand) and the Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques (CRPG / UL / CNRS) have identified traces of late aqueous weathering in the Black Beauty Mars meteorite (NWA 7533/7034). This weathering, recorded in the mineral zircon (ZrSiO4), is believed to have occurred on Mars between 227 and 56 million years ago during the Amazonian era. “This finding largely expands the time duration over which liquid water was available near the Martian surface, thereby suggesting that Mars might still be habitable,” say the researchers.
The discovery, published in Nature Communications is important for our understanding of the evolution of the Martian surface because it shows that liquid water was available near the surface in the relatively recent past and that this could still be the case today. The results suggest that Mars could have been habitable for most of its history since water is the first ingredient necessary for life to emerge.
Read the research paper: Record of low-temperature aqueous alteration of Martian zircon during the late Amazonian. M. Guitreau, J. Flahaut. Nature Communications 10.1038/s41467-019-10382-y