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The surface of Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit for its F1 Grand Prix derives from the same greywacke aggregate being studied to understand how life could occur on other planets.
The surface of Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit for its F1 Grand Prix derives from the same greywacke aggregate being studied to understand how life could occur on other planets.

Formula One aggregates point to life on Mars

Rocks that originated from a quarry in England’s south-west are currently being studied to help scientists understand how life could occur on other planets.

The rocks – which originate from Bayston Hill Quarry in Shropshire, England, and have been used to surface Formula One (F1) Grand Prix motor race tracks in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain – are being studied by the university’s Geosciences Department to determine whether microbial life could exist on the surface of Mars.

It is understood that Bayston Hill Quarry’s “deep biosphere” helped provide a habitat for microbes to flourish millions of years ago. This evidence has since been added into an ongoing study on the feasibility of life on Mars.

Professor John Parnell, who co-authored the study, told Quarry the study began in 2016.


"Indeed, there is a very real possibility that what’s good for F1 is also good for life across the universe."
Professor John Parnell, University of Aberdeen Geosciences Department

“The rocks that that have been used to surface the Abu Dhabi and Bahrain F1 Grand Prix circuits have been chosen because they have some particularly desirable characteristics,” Parnell said.

“These characteristics are what created an underground habitat hundreds of millions of years ago, where we have found extensive evidence of microbes that colonised the deep biosphere.”

Parnell added the study’s benefits could potentially be more far-reaching than initially anticipated.

“There is a good chance that the conditions that led to this may be replicated on other planets, particularly on Mars where we have previously found evidence of methane – an important food source for microbial life – in Martian rock,” he explained.

“As well as its value to Formula One, the quarry in Shropshire where we undertook this study is a valuable resource to help us understand how life can flourish deep beneath the surface.

“Indeed, there is a very real possibility that what’s good for F1 is also good for life across the universe.”

According to Parnell, the project’s next step will be to study similar rocks at other sites.

Land rovers have previously found evidence of methane – an important food source for microbial life – in Martian basalt deposits.
Land rovers have previously found evidence of methane – an important food source for microbial life – in Martian basalt deposits.

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Monday, 23 April, 2018 03:19pm
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