From cars to Mars: What's good for F1 is good for life across the universe

From cars to Mars: What's good for F1 is good for life across the universe

The rocks used to surface the track at this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix are helping scientists understand how life might occur on other planets.

The rocks originate from a Shropshire quarry that is being studied by academics from the University of Aberdeen’s School of Geosciences.

Their analysis of the so-called ‘deep biosphere’ within the quarry has found that the same characteristics that make the rock suitable for surfacing Formula 1 circuits helped provide a habitat for microbes to flourish millions of years ago.

The rocks are particularly resilient, making them resistant to abrasion from F1 car tyres.  The same properties make them brittle, allowing the development of deep fractures where microbes can live.

The findings are important in helping scientists understand whether it’s possible for microbial life to exist in the sub-surface on Mars, and provides evidence that has been incorporated into an ongoing study that is assessing this possibility.

Professor John Parnell, who is co-authoring the study, commented: “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.

“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.

“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.

“As well as its value to Formula 1, 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!”

Search News

Browse by Month

2021

  1. Jan
  2. Feb
  3. Mar
  4. Apr
  5. May
  6. Jun
  7. Jul
  8. Aug
  9. Sep
  10. Oct
  11. Nov There are no items to show for November 2021
  12. Dec There are no items to show for December 2021

2016

  1. Jan There are no items to show for January 2016
  2. Feb
  3. Mar There are no items to show for March 2016
  4. Apr There are no items to show for April 2016
  5. May There are no items to show for May 2016
  6. Jun There are no items to show for June 2016
  7. Jul There are no items to show for July 2016
  8. Aug There are no items to show for August 2016
  9. Sep
  10. Oct
  11. Nov
  12. Dec

2014

  1. Jan There are no items to show for January 2014
  2. Feb
  3. Mar
  4. Apr
  5. May
  6. Jun
  7. Jul There are no items to show for July 2014
  8. Aug There are no items to show for August 2014
  9. Sep There are no items to show for September 2014
  10. Oct There are no items to show for October 2014
  11. Nov
  12. Dec There are no items to show for December 2014

2013

  1. Jan
  2. Feb
  3. Mar
  4. Apr There are no items to show for April 2013
  5. May
  6. Jun
  7. Jul There are no items to show for July 2013
  8. Aug There are no items to show for August 2013
  9. Sep
  10. Oct
  11. Nov
  12. Dec There are no items to show for December 2013

2012

  1. Jan
  2. Feb
  3. Mar
  4. Apr
  5. May
  6. Jun There are no items to show for June 2012
  7. Jul There are no items to show for July 2012
  8. Aug There are no items to show for August 2012
  9. Sep
  10. Oct
  11. Nov
  12. Dec

2011

  1. Jan There are no items to show for January 2011
  2. Feb There are no items to show for February 2011
  3. Mar There are no items to show for March 2011
  4. Apr
  5. May There are no items to show for May 2011
  6. Jun There are no items to show for June 2011
  7. Jul There are no items to show for July 2011
  8. Aug There are no items to show for August 2011
  9. Sep There are no items to show for September 2011
  10. Oct
  11. Nov There are no items to show for November 2011
  12. Dec There are no items to show for December 2011