Saturday , January 16 2021

Two Scottish islands have land similar to Mars: geologists

Geologists in Scotland say two rural, mountainous islands correspond to Mars.

Using open-source data from NASA's curious, curious scientists, geologists have been able to compare soil samples from the Red Planet to a database of more than 1,500 Scottish soil samples, finding the Martian soil more closely suited to two Scottish islands: Sky and Moll.

Sky and Moll are fairly mountainous islands on the west coast of Scotland. Skye is a popular tourist destination and has been featured in several films, including "Prometheus", "BFG" and "Transformers: The Last Knight".

Benjamin Butler, a digital mineralogist with the James Houghton Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland, said the results are logical because of the similarities between the islands and Mars.

"The reason they stand out is that the soil on Skye and Mull form on a rock similar to the rocks found on Mars, so in this sense, we would expect to find the similar soils, in these ancient volcanic environments," he said.

All three soil samples are rich in basal rock minerals, usually found on both the Earth and Mars, but their interaction with water over time makes these three areas unique, says Butler.

Butler hopes the discovery will allow NASA scientists to explore Mars more easily and find out if it can support bacteria, as more ground tests can now be conducted on Earth.

"It just opens a lot of doors to help in understanding the ancient environments on Mars," he said.

Curiosity rider landed on Mars in August 2012 with the aim of assessing the geology of the earth and determine whether it was ever able to support bacteria.

Butler thanked NASA for allowing Corrizzi's land data to be accessible to the public.

"Things should be freely available for others to explore, because without open data, this integration would not have been possible," he said. "This is a recent example of how unexpected findings can occur when you share data openly."

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