A glimpse at ancient atmospheres

By Anthea Lacchia

Scientists at University College San Diego have discovered a new chemical reaction that may help uncover new information on the ancient atmospheres of Earth and Mars. This chemical reaction takes place on the surface of aerosols in the atmosphere. The researchers also discovered that atmosphere can be trapped in carbonate rock. This provides insight into how carbonates form on Earth and Mars, as well as advancing understanding of climate change on Earth.

In particular, a higher than expected proportion of oxygen-17 isotopes was found in the carbonates. Interestingly, this discovery also provides a simple chemical explanation for the carbonate inclusions found in a meteorite from Mars that was once thought to be evidence of ancient Martian life.