Astrobiological significance of minerals on Mars surface environment


Despite the large amount of geomorphological, geodynamic and geophysical data obtained from Mars missions, much is still unknown about Martian mineralogy and paragenetic assemblages, which is fundamental to an understanding of its entire geological history. Minerals are not only indicators of the physical– chemical settings of the different environments
and their later changes, but also they could (and do) play a crucial astrobiological role related with the possibility of existence of extinct or extant Martian life. This paper aims: (1) to present a synoptic review of the main water-related Martian minerals (mainly jarosite and other sulfates) discovered up to the present time; (2) to emphasize their significance as environmental geomarkers, on the basis of their geological settings and mineral parageneses on earth (in particular in the context of some selected terrestrial analogues), and (3) to show that their differential UV shielding properties, against the hostile environmental conditions of the Martian surface, are of a great importance for the search for extraterrestrial life.

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