Prospects of Astrogeology and Astrobiology researches in India: Ladakh as an example


  • Binita Phartiyal Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences, 53 University Road, Lucknow 226 007, India
  • Jonathan D.A. Clarke Mars Society Australia, 43 Michell St Monash, ACT 2904, Australia
  • Siddharth Pandey Centre of Excellence in Astrobiology, Amity University Mumbai-410206, India



Ladakh, Cold–arid desert, Mars analogue research, Astrobiology, Astrogeology


Ladakh sector of the Trans–Himalayan region in India shows a strong fidelity as an analogue of Mars. It is dry, cold arid desert, has abundant rocky ground with dust devils, loose rock blanketing the mountain slopes, segregated ground ice/permafrost, rock glaciers, sand dunes, drainage networks, catastrophic flooding sequences, making it geomorphologically similar as an early Mars analogue. Even for the geochemical fidelity in Ladakh volcanic rocks (basalt); serpentinites, saline lakes, active and fossil hydrothermal systems exist which can give a clue to the processes and chemistry of the Martian grounds. As far as exobiological fidelity is concerned we have permafrost (evidence of water in the past), increased UV and cosmic radiation flux, reduced atmospheric pressure, hot springs (some rich in boron). Hence, Ladakh environment, characters by freezing temperatures, limited precipitation, open water in rivers and lakes, comparatively low atmospheric pressure, thermal springs, and relatively high ultraviolet flux, is an analogue for the Noachian epoch on Mars. Ladakh is surely a treat for geographers, geologists and in recent years also for the astrogeologist’s and astrobiologist’s as well, with its lunar/martian landscapes; exposures of sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rock types; glacial, fluvial lacustrine sediments and active climatic and tectonic processes. This article demonstrated the many opportunities for Mars analogue research, mentioning the sedimentary deposits of Ladakh with examples from the variety of sediment exposures along the Indus River and explores possibilities for the future astro work sites–be it the landforms carved from the glacial, fluvial, lacustrine and aeolian deposits to study the sedimentary processes, the hyper saline lakes, the permafrost and the hot springs to study the extremophiles or the million year emplacements of the rocks to study the geochemical constituents.


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How to Cite

Phartiyal, B., D.A. Clarke, J., & Pandey, S. (2021). Prospects of Astrogeology and Astrobiology researches in India: Ladakh as an example. Journal of Palaeosciences, 70((1-2), 327–337.

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