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MASE Astrobiologists study Mars-like environments on Earth

6 Aug 2016, 16:00 UTC
MASE Astrobiologists study Mars-like environments on Earth
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A team of astrobiologists descended 1.1 kilometers below Earth’s surface to the Mars-like environment of the Boulby Mine in the UK looking for answers about life on other planets. Credit: ESF
Recently, a team of astrobiologists from the EU funded MASE (Mars Analogues for Space Exploration) project descended 1.1 kilometers below Earth’s surface to the Mars-like environment of the Boulby Mine in the UK looking for answers about life on other planets. Six members of the MASE team headed to the mine on the North East coast of England to study ancient formations of honey-comb like hexagonal patterns that were formed 250 million years ago. Similar geological formations have been observed on Mars and the analysis of these rocks will help future space missions to better identify potential sites to look for biosignatures.
Speaking about the recent investigation, MASE Scientific Coordinator Professor Charles Cockell from the UK Center for Astrobiology explains: “In Boulby the rocks were formed around 250 million years ago, in a giant inland sea. We think the polygonal shapes are connected to the expansion of salt when the sea periodically dried out, similar to the processes we see in places like Death Valley in California today. These ...

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