Mars may have lost much of its atmosphere during asteroid impacts early in its history.
January 18, 2005
The Beagle 2 lander will look for signatures of life on Mars, whether long-dead or still-living, by measuring the ratio of two different types of carbon in the rocks. Biological processes on Earth favour the lighter isotope of carbon, carbon-12, over the heavier carbon-13. Hence, a high carbon-12 to carbon-13 ratio is taken as evidence of life and has been found in rocks up to 4 billion years old, even where geological processing has occurred. The hope is that the same occurred on Mars.
Topics: Environment, Chemistry, Nature, Space exploration, geological processing, Beagle 2, Mars landing, Carbon, Iron, Astrobiology, Mars