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This radiation will destroy most signals of life in the top few metres of the Martian surface.
If organic carbon (one of the building blocks of life) is present within the accessible Martian sediments, it is very likely that it will have experienced some oxidation.
Oxidised carbonaceous shales were analysed using Raman spectroscopy to assess this issue.
Results show that haematite has a band which occurs in the same frequency as the carbon D band, which cannot be distinguished from each other.
ESA׳s Exo Mars mission set to fly in 2018, has on board a miniaturised Raman spectrometer.
But while the difficulties of single life may be intractable, the challenge of determining the age of prehistoric artifacts and fossils is greatly aided by measuring certain radioactive isotopes.During the last prehistoric expansion of modern humans, Polynesians from the Samoa-Tonga area dispersed through more than 500 remote, subtropical to subantarctic islands of East Polynesia (a cultural region encompassing the islands of New Zealand, Chathams, Auckland, Norfolk, Kermadecs, Societies, Cooks, Australs, Gambier, Tuamotu, Marquesas, Line, Rapa Nui, and Hawaii), an oceanic region the size of North America (Fig. The timing and sequence of this expansion, debated vigorously since Europeans rediscovered the islands of East Polynesia (1, 2) and most intensively with the advent of radiocarbon dating (3, 4), remains unresolved. This analysis shortened East Polynesian prehistory just at the time when accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating became available for very small samples (e.g., individual seeds).On many islands, irreconcilable long and short settlement chronologies coexist that vary by more than 400–1,000 y (4). 600–950 in the central, northern, and eastern archipelagos, and no earlier than A. Subsequent studies using precise AMS dating of short-lived materials alone have generally supported short chronologies (4, 6–8).Carbon-14, or radiocarbon, is a naturally occurring radioactive isotope that forms when cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere strike nitrogen molecules, which then oxidize to become carbon dioxide.Green plants absorb the carbon dioxide, so the population of carbon-14 molecules is continually replenished until the plant dies.