Monday, May 27, 2024

“Potential Indicators of Life”… NASA Study Reveals “Organic Elements” on Martian Surface


Further evidence reveals “possible signs of life” on Mars, the latest of which has been found in ten locations at the bottom of the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater.

The new evidence was discovered by the Sherlock instrument on NASA’s Perseverance spacecraft, which showed the presence of “organic” particles from several rock samples that were collected and returned to Earth for analysis.

The researchers found that the evidence provided by the “organic” samples could be proof of past or present life on Mars, but it is not conclusive because non-biological explanations are still possible.

Sunanda Sharma, an astronomer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in research published in the journal Nature Science “Organic compounds are part of the 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 that vary in the compositions of the crater floor and the associated minerals,” he added.

The Perseverance spacecraft is on a mission to search for evidence of life on Mars and is collecting rock and soil samples with the intention of returning them for analysis on Earth.

The rover landed on the Martian surface in February 2021 in the Jezero crater on the planet’s northern side, where it is believed to have been submerged for years.

Scientists believe that Mars is a planet with “microbial” life that lived in the Jezero Crater, where river channels stretched along the crater walls to form a lake 3.5 billion years ago.

The Sherlock instrument uses cameras, lasers and spectrometers to examine wavelengths of light in search of organic molecules linked to microbial life in the distant past.

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The scientists did not specify the exact nature of the organic components from Sherlock’s data, while they could be compounds like “benzene or naphthalene,” researcher Ryan Rubel, a chemist at the University of Pittsburgh, told Reuters.

These compounds are “common on Earth in crude oil of biological origin, but we can make them industrially through various chemical reactions,” he said.

Rubel noted that the “concentrations” shown by the Sherlock data “were lower every year … but we observed signs associated with organic matter in every rock we sampled.”

Signs of the presence of organic molecules on the surface of Mars were first discovered in 2015 by the Curiosity rover, and many more discoveries have been made since.

“There are energetic and abiotic mechanisms that allow the formation of organic molecules, including interplanetary dust, meteorites or water interactions,” explained researcher Ruppel.

Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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