Science

New Mars discoveries advance case for possible life

New Mars discoveries advance case for possible life”

Curiosity reports that methane levels on Mars go up and down in a predictable cycle.

Findings from Curiosity also reveal that a water lake inside Mars" Gale Crater once held all the "ingredients necessary for life", including "chemical building blocks and energy sources'.

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

In any case, Webster said the methane apparently works its way into the atmosphere from sub-surface reservoirs of some sort, places where non-biological geochemistry is going on or where microbial life might somehow flourish. "And what it does, it gives us a key to unlocking the mysteries associated with Mars methane because now we have something to test our models and our understanding against".

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

Paul Mahaffy, director of the Solar System Exploration Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, explained that the objective of the mission was to explore the possibility of sustaining life on Mars. That's because the surface of Mars is constantly bombarded with radiation that can break down organic compounds.

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.

"With these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and keep searching for evidence of life", said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. The fact that similar molecules were also present at this new site suggests that this kind of organic material is present in abundance. "Organic matter" in this context doesn't mean anything we'd recognize from our lives on Earth.

In addition to finding organic molecules in the rocks in Gale Crater, rover scientists are reporting another intriguing finding. Mars2020 will shed light on the organic molecules-and prepare a sample that some future mission could bring back to Earth.

If Viking was phase one of our search for life on Mars, and the methodical quest for clues of habitability that followed was phase two, says Grinspoon, "this is the successful culmination of phase two". Some of these fragments contain sulfur, which could have helped preserve them in the same way sulfur is used to make auto tires more durable, according to Eigenbrode. Drilling beneath the surface, rather than sampling what was on top like Viking did, also helped. Combined, these results present tantalising hints of a potentially habitable Martian past.

"The Martian surface is exposed to radiation from space". Before, researchers couldn't understand why the little bit of methane detected in the Martian atmosphere varied.

The new results represent the longest systematic record of atmospheric methane, with measurements taken regularly over five years.

A potential explanation for the seasonal Martian methane.

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. The rover spotted the chemical signature in samples take from sedimentary rocks the formed some 3 billion years ago. Then, the conditions would have been comparable to Earth.

All of the outside sources I spoke with said it's important to be skeptical about claims of life, extinct or otherwise, on the Red Planet. Hell comes from Mars, NASA, and it's only been two years since we cleaned up the last incident of Mars Hell. 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.

This is apparent evidence of a large lake when ancient Mars was warmer and wetter than it is today.

At this point, we simply don't know whether the origin is biological or geological.



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