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cosmic dust

18 November 2015

At http://phys.org/print366883655.html … it seems NASA spotted a cloud of dust surrounding Mars close to its atmosphere. It is not thought to originate from Mars, comets, or asteroids – neither from its moons Phobos and Deimos. It is considered it must come from a larger dust cloud floating around within our solar system. One reason for this conclusion is that it is thought interplanetary dust is an important element in the formation of our Sun and the planets – so that dust must be out there somewhere and why not around Mars.

Cosmic dust is made up of tiny mineral grains. It is said that a star forms from the collapse of a gas cloud made up of hydrogen and helium, elements created in the aftermath of Big Bang. Stars use hydrgen as fuel which creates heavier elements such as cabron and oxygen etc. These clouds in turn released at the end of a star's life, during a supernova event. This explosion creates additional elements such as silicon and iron, and combine with oxygen to produce minerals – which includes the dust around Mars.

It is thought that cosmic dust might have kick started life on Earth – and the pieces continues in the interpretation favoured by the authors. One is left thinking that cosmic dust should also have triggered life on Mars. Apparently not. We are told that because Mars did not have a magnetic field this was not possible as it allowed the solar wind to lash the planet and make life an unlikely prospect. We may remember a post from last week about water on Mars but we are told by the author of this piece, taken from The Conversation, that life could never have started  – because Mars didn't have a magnetic field. Hence, the idea Mars lost its magnetic field at some stage is not taken up by the author and instead, he has a more pessimistic view the red planet and its history. Obviously, different people intepret the same body of information in different ways.

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