New Mars discoveries advance case for possible life

Mindy Sparks
June 7, 2018

Organic molecules are the building blocks of life, though they can also be produced by chemical reactions unrelated to life.

No matter its objective, these work as "chemical clues" for researchers about Mars.

Here on Earth, 95 percent of all methane molecules are the product of living chemistry. The crystals may have obtained methane from ancient forms of life.

The two studies appear in the journal Science. Those detections either caused debate or lacked the context for understanding, the researchers said.

NASA says the announcement has something to do with "new science results from NASA's Curiosity rover", which tells us quite a bit about what the news might be.

We should point out here that NASA press conferences are always hyped to the skies by UFO fans - then it turns out to be something important, but not alien-related.

One thing is for sure, though - whatever we can figure out about the chemistry of Mars, it's nearly certainly going to add precious details to our understanding of life in the cosmos. This variation was detected by Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite.

But Curiosity has discovered "tough" organic molecules from an ancient lake bed inside Gale Crater, showing lakes may have existed for "maybe hundreds or thousands of years". It likely held a lake, and now includes a mountain.

NASA's Curiosity rover has previously found organic matter. Occasionally, rocks can make produce them on their own through geological processes, and meteorites can also bring them from neighboring planets. Drilling beneath the surface, rather than sampling what was on top like Viking did, also helped.

"The Martian surface is exposed to radiation from space", said Jen Eigenbrode, a study author and research scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center. With five years of data from a single location, they now have answers. Once at the surface, the methane sticks to dirt and rocks, with more released into the atmosphere when it's hotter.

A crystalline water structure called a clathrate provides a flawless explanation.

Methane is a strong greenhouse gas, and it could have supported a climate that sustained lakes on Mars. Scientists released new findings on Thursday providing more evidence that suggest Mars was once a habitable planet.

Contained below the 3.5 billion-year-old mudstone was a fine-grained sedimentary rock.

Dr Webster is also awaiting results from the current ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) mission, which is orbiting the Red Planet, sniffing methane.

Scientists agree more powerful spacecraft - and, ideally, rocks returned to Earth from Mars - are needed to prove whether tiny organisms like bacteria ever existed on the red planet.

"That would be exciting because if that is done within two years, NASA can send a mission specifically to that place", he said. I want to know their story. And the Mars 2020 rover, which is expected to launch July 2020, may be able to assist with one day retrieving soil samples from Mars.

"Are there signs of life on Mars?" said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, at NASA Headquarters. "But it doesn't tell us that life was there".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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