Crystallization to Life

Image Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA

Maxine Louie
Office Manager

One of the biggest goals of many space agencies is to discover if life exists on Mars. There has been speculation of finding evidence of life on Mars. After all, water had a hand carving its landscape long ago. Now the question stands, does life truly exist on Mars?

Mars has also been called the Red Planet, ever wondered why? It’s the magnesium iron (Mg-Fe) clay mineral formations and the oxidation of it. This clay mineralization occurs in the presence of silicate, this is a compound of silicon and oxygen atoms. The environment of Mars has been found to be more acidic than that of our home planet Earth.

My research strives to discover the effect of pH on this crystallization process. It seeks to find what colour it becomes, as well as its oxidation and further analysis on the crystallization pattern. These patterns could be compared to those on Mars, discovering the ideal conditions to mineralize Mg-Fe clay and bring the larger research project to the next step.

The ultimate goal of this project is to see if the crystallization pattern of Mg-Fe clay minerals is affected by bacterial growth. The introduction of bacteria in the crystallization process is important because if it has observable effects, it could be further compared to the minerals on Mars. The similarities can be studied and if there are strong relations found with both clay samples, the hypothesis of life on Mars would gain more credibility.

Originally Published on Vol.49 Issue 11 on March 18th, 2020