Curiosity Finds Ancient Organic Compounds That Match Meteoritic Samples

NASA Mars Mars life Life on Mars Curiosity rover Mars rover Mars Curiosity rover

Kate further argues that the finding of ancient organics ascertain that the fundamental conditions for life formation did exist on Mars about 3.5 billion years ago and their current existence is because of the absence of an outside force such as ultraviolet light that can destroy them completely.

The rover also collected information about the varying levels of methane in the atmosphere of Mars.

Researchers can not yet say whether their discovery stems from life or a more mundane geological process. Over the last six years, Curiosity has analyzed samples of soil and rocks for signs of organic matter, which is characterized by complex carbon chains that form the building blocks of life here on Earth. A researcher of Maryland based Goddard space centre of NASA informed the Carbon element found on Mars planet is not the exact evidence of life.

Launched in 2011, Curiosity was created to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes.

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In a second paper in Science, NASA's Christopher Webster and an worldwide team describe how they have used instruments on-board Curiosity to measure a seasonal variation in methane levels in the Martian atmosphere. Thiophenes are the simplest sulphur-containing aromatic compounds (aromatic refers to how the molecules are bonded together) and it occurs with benzene in coal tar.

She said that although the surface of Mars is presently "inhospitable", indications are that in the distant past the Martian climate allowed liquid water to exist on the planet's surface. Although there was no way to directly date the organic material found within the rocks, it has to be at least as old as the rocks themselves.

However, ten Kate says that it is not surprising to find organic matter on Mars because it can not be compared to items like pieces of flesh, dead cells or tufts of grass.

The new results are detailed in two studies published Thursday in the journal Science.

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"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.

He and his colleagues think the methane is coming from underground.

Organic compounds contain carbon and are vital life components.

There's another intriguing possibility, that these rocks came from the bottom of a lake from a time when Mars was a warm and watery planet.

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Again, while water-rock chemistry might have generated the methane, scientists can not rule out the possibility that the gas was produced by biological processes. If you're interested in being part of the conversation, or have a burning question that you'd like NASA to answer, you can submit inquiries using the hashtag #askNASA up until 1 p.m. this afternoon.

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