Mars Rover Curiosity has found organic molecules, methane on Mars

Mars Curiosity rover selfie

It can also arise from lifeless interactions between flowing water and hot rocks whereas other simple organic molecules are known to exist in some meteorites and interstellar gas clouds.

'I'm confident that our ongoing and planned missions will unlock even more breathtaking discoveries on the Red Planet'.

"Curiosity has not determined the source of the organic molecules", Jen Eigenbrode of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said.

"That is a good place for life to have lived if it ever existed on Mars", she said.

While it could be produced by microorganisms under the surface of Mars, it could also be produced by non-biological processes such as chemical reactions in rocks, or the breakdown of organic matter in dust delivered by comets or meteors, by UV radiation. "Both radiation and harsh chemicals break down organic matter", Eigenbrode continued. In another paper published simultaneously in the journal Science, they describe background levels of methane, also an organic, in Mars's atmosphere that varies seasonally. That's not to say there are no non-biological sources, but on our world they're swamped by cow farts and belching bacteria. The levels averaged at 0.41 parts per billion by volume, but ranged from 0.24 to 0.65 depending on the season.

"The chances of being able to find signs of ancient life with future missions, if life ever was present, just went up", said Curiosity's project scientist, Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

And the seasonal methane pulse is perhaps, maybe, possibly - but far, far from certainly - the sort of signal Curiosity might detect if life did form back then and was still around somewhere, ten Kate said. The long duration has allowed us to see the patterns in this seasonable 'breathing'.

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The Curiosity rover has not been able to find the source of the organic molecules in its findings, according to the report. After carefully accounting for background contamination from SAM, Freissinet and her colleagues baked 3-billion-year-old mudstone samples at over 500 degrees C, a temperature at which perchlorates should have fully burned away. The organic molecules and volatiles, comparable to samples of sedimentary rock rich in organics on Earth, included thiopene, methylthiophenes methanethiol and dimethylsulfide. So like the organic molecules, it's not an unambiguous biosignature. Scientists released new findings on Thursday providing more evidence that suggest Mars was once a habitable planet.

This periodicity is to Webster the most exciting part of his team's results. Some of the molecules identified include thiophenes, benzene, toluene, and small carbon chains, such as propane or butene.

"We have detected the bits and pieces of something bigger", said Eigenbrode. This new discovery of old organics strengthens that possibility and offers new insights into how things preserve in Mars rock, Grinspoon says.

Scientists reported Thursday that NASA's Curiosity rover has found potential building blocks of life in an ancient Martian lake bed.

"Are there signs of life on Mars?" "Organic matter" in this context doesn't mean anything we'd recognize from our lives on Earth.

NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover snaps a self-portrait at a site called Vera Rubin Ridge on the Martian surface in February 2018 in this image obtained on June 7, 2018.

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