NASA Has Discovered Organic Matter ‘Fundamental to Life’ on Mars

Life on Mars? NASA’s Curiosity rover discovers ancient evidence on the red planet

The material was discovered by the Mars Curiosity rover, which has been collecting data on the Red Planet since August 2012. "Are there signs of life on Mars?" said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, at NASA Headquarters.

Humayan is a professor of geochemistry at Florida State Univeristy and on staff at the FSU-headquartered National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.

Details about the discovery were published by the NASA scientists in the journal Science.

For the first time in history, NASA has finally confirmed that they have clear evidence that basic building blocks of life exist on Mars. The experiment involved scientists heating the rock fragments to more than 900 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a close inspection of the molecules that wafted away. Billions of years ago, Mars had water on its surface, and the Gale Crater region on Mars had all the necessary elements that are necessary for the creation of biological life forms. "That pessimistic possibility that has lurked as a fear at the back of everyone's minds may just have been changed forever".

Organic molecules are mainly linked with biological life but under different conditions, they can also be formed due to non-biological processes. They've found organic carbon on the surface of Mars!

In addition to these molecules, the Rover was able to observe variations in methane emissions as a function of the season. She said the discoveries break down some of the strongest arguments put forward by life-on-Mars skeptics, herself included.

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While this still does prove the existence of extraterrestrial life, it certainly is a step in the direction of potential life on Mars billions of years ago. The good news is that the findings pave the way and further direct the Martian quest for life.

"We were a bit puzzled; we weren't sure what those molecules really meant in the bigger picture of the search for life", said biogeochemist at NASA Goddard and lead author of the study, Jennifer Eigenbrode.

This low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the site from which it reached down to drill into a rock target called "Buckskin" on lower Mount Sharp. "The first one would be life, which we don't know about".

More recently, at the beginning of 2018, the Curiosity was thought to have found evidence of bioturbation, which is what occurs when organisms living in sediments leave an imprint on their structure. 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.

Curiosity has discovered "seasonally fluctuating levels of methane" in the atmosphere on Mars, as well as organic molecules in drilling samples.

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