New Discoveries from NASA - Was There Ever Life on Mars?
10 June, 2018, 21:25 | Author: Darnell Taylor
This latest finding is the discovery of the first organic molecules on Mars, which - in the context of Earth - are the basis of "all life that we know", said researcher Eigenbrode. Data from Curiosity reveal that billions of years ago, a water lake inside Gale Crater held all the ingredients necessary for life, including chemical building blocks and energy sources.
Curiosity also has confirmed sharp seasonal increases of methane in the Martian atmosphere.
What they can't say yet is whether there is, or ever was, life on the Red Planet.
The scientists hope to find better preserved organic compounds with Curiosity or other rovers that would allow them to check for chemical signatures of life. About 3.5 billion years ago, research suggests, this pockmark on the Martian surface was brimming with water.
It is yesterday evening that the us space agency's announcement came from the Goddard Space Flight Center: the Curiosity Rover has found traces of throwing in the martian soil!
"When you work with something as insane as a rover on Mars, with the most complex instrument ever sent to space, it seems like we're doing what may have been perceived earlier as impossible", says lead author Jennifer Eigenbrode , a biogeochemist at NASA Goddard.
The studies were conducted using evidence collected by NASA's Curiosityrover, which is now rolling around the Martian surface. During the summer months, levels of the gas detected by Curiosity rose to about 0.7 parts per billion; in winter, they fell to roughly half that. Not exactly, but NASA describes it as a "good sign" in the quest for life on Mars.
So, at present, this new information may not be a strong indicator of the presence of life on Mars at present, or somewhere during its past, it does provide a starting point for further Mars missions, NASA is planning on sending new Mars missions that will search for signs of life on the planet's surface and also below its surface.
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Organic molecules contain carbon and hydrogen, and can include oxygen, nitrogen, and other elements. The molecules in the mudstone could have once enabled life to form in lakes when Mars still had liquid water on its surface and the methane could have been produced by life.
Attention, however this does not mean that life exists or has ever existed on the Red planet!
More recently, at the beginning of 2018, the Curiosity was thought to have found evidence of bioturbation, which is what occurs when organisms living in sediments leave an imprint on their structure.
"We know that on Earth microorganisms eat all kinds of organic products, it is a source of valuable food for them", said Eigenbrode.
"This is the first time we've seen something repeatable in the methane story, so it offers us a handle in understanding it", said Chris Webster of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, lead author of the second paper.
Scientists do not exclude a biological origin of the methane, due to the fact that its level changes from season to season.
Clearly, there are more questions about Mars that need answering.
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