The question of our existence on Earth is talked about by not only philosophers but also science investigators. Earth is not the only rocky planet in our solar system, there is also the moon and Mars. What these planets all have in common is they have a lot of water, which makes them a hot spot for exploration. But there is also a mineral that is a common factor: olivine.
According to a Forbes article, “the chemical composition of olivine is important to figure out how the rocks on the surface were formed, particularly examining the proportions of magnesium and iron within olivine.”
Spacecraft at the moon and Mars want to do more than just say olivine is on the planet. The composition says a lot of the temperature it takes for the mineral to form. If there is a higher temperature, more magnesium is produced where if it’s a lower temperature, more iron is produced.
A method called spectroscopy is used to detect different minerals on the rocky surfaces. Elements and compounds can reflect differently or absorb various wavelengths of light. Researchers are narrowing in on wavelengths that are between four and eight microns. This range of microns can predict how much iron or magnesium will be in the olivine sample, according to lab studies.
If we use these wavelengths, it could help us see how the moon and Mars were formed. All of this information can translate to major events in our history such as how water came to Earth or what occurred after a Mars-sized planet crashed into Earth and created debris.
In the future, researchers hope to fly a spacecraft to one of these planets to scan in the wavelengths. Until then, they will stay scanning the sky!