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San Diego Scientist Finds Relics Of Past Water In Martian Meteorite

Scientists have used the Allan Hills 84001 meteorite, pictured here, to study ancient Mars, Aug. 15, 2013.
NASA
Scientists have used the Allan Hills 84001 meteorite, pictured here, to study ancient Mars, Aug. 15, 2013.
San Diego Scientist Finds Relics Of Past Water In Martian Meteorite
A close look at a meteorite from Mars suggests water may not have flowed abundantly on the planet 4 billion years ago.

A close look at a meteorite from Mars suggests water may not have flowed abundantly on the planet 4 billion years ago.

For a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, UC San Diego's Robina Shaheen oversaw a new analysis of minerals in a four-pound meteorite. It's called Allan Hills 84001, after the location in Antarctica where it was discovered 30 years ago.

Minerals in the meteorite act as a record of water and atmospheric conditions on ancient Mars. Shaheen said those records show Mars may have been drier than some theories suggest.

"They tell us that, 3.9 billion years ago, when these carbonates were formed, there was not much water on Mars," explained Shaheen.

Mars probably had smaller seas of water instead of expansive oceans, she said.

The findings don't rule out the possibility of Mars harboring life at some point, though. Scientists continue to collect signs suggestive of life existing at some point on the planet.

Earlier this month, NASA's Curiosity rover detected bursts of methane on the planet. One possible source could have been microbial life.