NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has detected deposits of glass within impact craters on Mars. Though formed in the searing heat of a violent impact, such deposits might provide a delicate window into the possibility of past life on the Red Planet.
During the past few years, research has shown evidence about past life has been preserved in impact glass here on Earth. A 2014 study led by scientist Peter Schultz of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, found organic molecules and plant matter entombed in glass formed by an impact that occurred millions of years ago in Argentina. Schultz suggested that similar processes might preserve signs of life on Mars, if they were present at the time of an impact.
Fellow Brown researchers Kevin Cannon and Jack Mustard, building on the previous research, detail their data about Martian impact glass in a report now online in the journal Geology. “The work done by Pete and others showed us that glasses are potentially important for preserving biosignatures,” Cannon says… [More at links]