Wednesday, April 24, 2024

NASA Reveals Details of Organic Molecules in Martian Rocks


Posted by Heba El-Sayed

Saturday, July 15, 2023 at 08:00 p.m

recommendation NASA’s rover The presence of organic molecules in the Martian rocks, such as those found in long-ago lakes, could indicate the presence of life on the Red Planet.

The rover points out that evidence of such particles is not evidence of past or present life on Mars.

“Organic materials are the molecular building blocks of life as we know it, but they can also form from geological processes not directly related to life.

“We see many signals of variation in crater floor structures and associated minerals,” said Sunanta Sharma, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, lead author of the research published this week in the journal Nature.

In February 2021, Perseverance touched down in Jezero Crater, an area in the planet’s northern hemisphere that was once flooded and contained an ancient lake basin.

Scientists have long suspected that microbial life could live in Jezero Crater. They believe that river channels ran over the crater wall and formed the lake 3.5 billion years ago.

How did scientists discover organic molecules?

The latest evidence of life comes from a device called Sherlock attached to the six-wheeled rover’s robotic arm. SHERLOC is an acronym for Probing Habitable Environments Using Raman and Luminescence for Organic Matter and Chemicals.

The instrument enables detailed mapping and analysis of organic molecules using cameras, lasers and instruments called spectrometers. The spectrometer analyzes wavelengths of light to detect organic molecules that are signs of microbial life in the past.

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The researchers reported the Sherlock findings from 10 locations in two geological formations on the floor of Jezero Crater, and the study also collected rock samples to return to Earth for future study.

In a nod to Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock is assisted by Watson, a color camera, to take close-up pictures of rock grains and surface textures.

Stuart Wagner
Stuart Wagner
"Professional coffee fan. Total beer nerd. Hardcore reader. Alcohol fanatic. Evil twitter buff. Friendly tv scholar."

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