Manganese Oxides Can Form Easily in Mars-like Conditions Without Oxygen
In 2014, NASA’s Mars rovers discovered manganese oxides in rocks in the Gale and Endeavor craters on Mars. This led some scientists to think that Mars’s atmosphere may have had more oxygen billions of years ago.
Scientists said that the minerals probably needed a lot of water and oxygen to form. Using what they had learnt from Earth’s geologic record, scientists determined that the existence of manganese oxides suggested that Mars had undergone periodic spikes in atmospheric oxygen in the past, prior to its current low levels.
New experimental research from Washington University in St. Louis, however, contradicts this notion.
Under Mars-like circumstances, scientists found that manganese oxides may rapidly develop in the absence of oxygen. The authors also demonstrated that manganese oxidation is not feasible in the carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere predicted on ancient Mars using kinetic modeling.
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