NASA rover data shows Mars had the ingredients needed for life

NASA news conference Mars announcement

NASA news conference Mars announcement

NASA earlier this week announced that the Curiosity rover had started analysing drilled samples on Mars in one of its onboard labs for the first time in more than a year.

Jennifer Eigenbrode, an astrobiologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who led the organics study, said she's intrigued by the possibility that life might have existed and adapted on Mars. The new organic molecule findings are 100 times greater than those previously found on Mars' surface, according to the agency.

The sediments, analysed by the SAM instrument on Curiosity, come from just below the surface, where they have been shielded from most of the UV radiation that would break down organic molecules exposed on the surface.

"Whether it holds a record of ancient life, was food for life, or has existed in the absence of life, organic matter in Martian materials holds chemical clues to planetary conditions and processes".

On top of that, after keeping close tabs on methane levels in the Martian atmosphere, scientists have finally confirmed something weird is definitely going on, and they think they know what's causing it. "Biological, geological and meteoritic sources are all possible", they wrote.

NASA released a statement this week announcing the space agency would be holding a live discussion on new science results from its Mars Curiosity rover.

"It's not that they haven't found a bit of organic matter before or even the methane in the atmosphere.it's that they've now definitively shown this to be the case".

Both studies resulting from the mission were published online today in the journal Science.

Scientists have been seeking organic molecules on Mars ever since the 1976 Viking landers.

Some sort of biology can't be ruled out, of course, but any kind of complex organic chemistry would still tell us something about how life arose on Earth. Maybe there are subsurface Martian bacteria eating that methane, Tanya Harrison, director of research for Arizona State University's Space Technology and Science ("NewSpace") Initiative, told Gizmodo.

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.

Questions remain, however, as to how the organic material was formed. "While we don't know the source of the material, the incredible consistency of the results makes me think we have a slam-dunk signal for organics on Mars", Eigenbrode said.

The nuclear-powered rover has detected a variety of organic compounds, a requirement for life as it's known on Earth, in three-billion-year-old rocks deposited on the floor of Gale Crater.

Mate, Mars is telling you to leave well enough alone before you open another portal to Hell.

Dr Webster said the data pointed to methane trapped in water-based crystals deep under the planet's surface, which slowly seep to the surface when temperatures rise.

That could even be happening beneath the surface now, the researchers said.

NASA also has another rover in the works with its Mars 2020 mission, which plans to drill cores and set them aside for a possible future pickup and return to Earth.

"Are there signs of life on Mars?" But they could also be the result of abiotic chemical reactions on the surface of the planet.

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