As a part of their preparations, rocks from around the globe which are just like these from the purple planet are being collected – with Rum the one UK web site that samples have been taken from.
Scientists say the mineralogy and chemistry of the rocks from the Scottish island are just like these on Mars.
Whereas temperatures on Mars are a lot colder than on Earth, with a mean of about minus 60C, there was a time when circumstances on the purple planet have been extra just like “moist and heat Rum”, stated Dr Lydia Hallis, a geologist and planetary scientist from the Faculty of Geographical and Earth Sciences on the College of Glasgow.
A bunch of scientists from the NatureScot Nationwide Nature Reserve (NNR) have this week been accumulating samples from Rum, which is the most important of the Small Isles in Scotland’s Inside Hebrides.
It’s a part of the Mars Pattern Return Marketing campaign by Nasa and the European House Company, which is bringing collectively samples from the world over which are believed to be corresponding to rocks from Mars which are scheduled to be delivered to Earth in 2033.
Intensive research of the samples from Rum and different websites will then assist scientists perceive what strategies of testing and evaluation shall be finest deployed on the Martian rocks – which may yield details about the evolution of the planet, together with the potential for previous life.
Dr Hallis has been main the Rum pattern crew, which additionally contains Dr Luke Daly from the College of Glasgow, Professor Helen Williams and Dr Simon Matthews from the College of Cambridge, Professor John Bridges from the College of Leicester, and Dr Mariek Schmidt from Brock College in Canada.
Dr Hallis stated: “These Rum rocks are a superb comparability to a selected geologic unit on Mars – the igneous Seitah Formation inside the Jezero crater – which is characterised by the mineral olivine, and which the Nasa Perseverance Rover explored and sampled.
“Not solely is the mineralogy and chemistry comparable, however the two rocks seem to have the same quantity of weathering.
“This appears unusual once we suppose how moist and heat Rum is in comparison with current day Mars, however billions of years in the past when the Seitah Formation crystallised on Mars the distinction in surroundings wouldn’t have been so pronounced.
“Right now Mars was a lot wetter and hotter, with a thicker ambiance that will even have produced rain – although not as a lot as we get in Scotland.
“Over time the Martian ambiance thinned leaving the floor a lot dryer and colder, basically halting any additional weathering inside Seitah and preserving the rocks at Jezero crater for us to research right this moment.
“The rocks on Rum are youthful geologically than these which have been collected on Mars by Perseverance, however their publicity to the Scottish components has produced roughly the identical quantity of weathering as was produced within the Seitah Formation throughout Mars’s early moist and heat local weather.
“Due to all these similarities, evaluation of the Rum rocks ought to give us a great head begin and assist the samples from the purple planet obtain their full potential when they’re returned to Earth.”
Prof Bridges, from House Park Leicester, stated: “The Rum rocks we collected will bear the identical sorts of evaluation and in the identical stringent circumstances of laboratory cleanliness and safety because the Perseverance rover drill cores in order that the science neighborhood is prepared for the returned Jezero samples.”
Dr Schmidt stated it’s “very thrilling to see rocks like these we encountered on Mars within the subject on Earth”.
Lesley Watt, NatureScot’s Rum NNR reserve supervisor, stated: “With its extinct volcanoes and dramatic mountains, Rum has all the time been probably the greatest locations to find Scotland’s world-class geology, however we didn’t fairly realise that the rocks right here have been of interplanetary significance as nicely.
“It has been fascinating to be taught extra concerning the Nasa/ESA mission, and actually thrilling for the island to play a small half on this actually historic endeavour to search out out extra about Mars.
“We hope it would add one more component of curiosity for guests to this particular place.”