Organic Molecules and Methane Discovered on Mars

Preserved Organic Matter Found on Mars by NASA's Curiosity Rover

After years of searching Mars for any signs that it might sustain life or might have sustained life, NASA has finally found organic matter on the Red Planet. That leaves open the possibility that microorganisms once populated our planetary neighbor and might still exist there.

The findings were published in the journal Science.

The organic matter was reportedly discovered by NASA's Curiosity rover buried and preserved in ancient sediments which form a massive lake on Mars some three billion years ago.

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.

"Curiosity has shown that Gale crater was habitable around 3.5 billion years ago, with conditions comparable to those on the early Earth, where life evolved around that time", she wrote.

Organic molecules are the building blocks of life, though they can also be produced by chemical reactions unrelated to life. The space organization would unzip their sealed lips about what is the secrecy found on Mars this Thursday.

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NASA's first announcement of the presence of organic compounds on Mars came in 2014 when small levels of chlorinated methane compounds were detected.

The US space agency, however, stressed that this type of particle could have been the food source of a hypothetical microbial life on Mars.

"I don't believe there's life on Mars at the present", Freeman says, because Mars is very dry, very cold and lacks much of an atmosphere. The scientist who is there at the Goddard Space Flight Center has said that they have already spent five years to figure out the signals which are junk and they tried to remove it.

"There are active processes happening in the Martian subsurface today, which could include heated reactions between water and rocks, possible biological activity, or some other mechanism", Siebach noted.

The measurements made by Curiosity in the Gale crater have discovered that the atmospheric levels of methane in the red planet follow a seasonal cycle and have confirmed that it is higher around the equinoxes (spring and autumn) and less at the solstices. 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. NASA calls Curiosity the "largest and most capable" rover ever to make contact with Mars. Ken Williford, an astrobiologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told the Washington Post "it makes us more confident that if biomarkers are there we might find them".

NASA has not yet provided clues on what the new results are about, but it said that during the event, NASA scientists will have chats with the the public and media on the findings.

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