New NASA Discoveries Advance Case for Possible Life on Mars

Alien Life on Mars Case Reopened NASA's Curiosity Rover Found Prehistoric Building Blocks of Life on the Red Planet

Alien Life on Mars Case Reopened NASA's Curiosity Rover Found Prehistoric Building Blocks of Life on the Red Planet

NASA went a step further in its investigation into the presence of life on Mars by announcing that its Curiosity explorer robot, a mission that landed on that planet in 2012, has found organic molecules in rocks on the Martian surface."The chances of finding signs of remote life in future missions, if life was ever present on Mars, simply increased", said Curiosity project director Ashwin Vasavada on the United States agency's television channel.

Finding ancient carbon preserved right on the Martian surface gives scientists confidence that NASA's Mars 2020 rover and the European Space Agency's ExoMars rover will find even more organics, both on the surface and in the shallow subsurface.

In the mudstone that formed billions of years ago at the bottom of a lake, Curiosity discovered organic molecules, including thiophenes, benzene, toluene, and small carbon chains like propane or butane.

The discovery is a fascinating development in the search for life outside Earth and serve as a clue for researchers about the history of the Red Planet.

Also, scientists describe the discovery of seasonal changes of methane in the atmosphere of Mars for almost three years of Mars, which is nearly six earth years. In 2013, the rover found that liquid water and the chemical components behind life had once existed on Mars.

Eigenbrode said that - now that potential signs of ancient life have been found - future missions to Mars will delve deeper into the issue of organic molecules and other possible markers for life.


Scientists agree more powerful spacecraft-and, ideally, rocks returned to Earth from Mars-are needed to prove whether tiny organisms like bacteria ever existed on the red planet. During the summer months, levels of the gas detected by Curiosity rose to about 0.7 parts per billion; in winter, they fell to roughly half that.

In addition to finding organic molecules in the rocks in Gale Crater, rover scientists are reporting another intriguing finding.

"The big takeaway is that we can find evidence". About 95 percent of the methane in Earth's atmosphere is produced from biological activity, though the scientists said it is too soon to know if the Martian methane also is related to life. However, "we're in a really good position to move forward looking for signs of life", said Jennifer Eigenbrode, a NASA biogeochemist and lead author of a study published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science.

Again, while water-rock chemistry might have generated the methane, scientists can not rule out the possibility that the gas was produced by biological processes.

He and his colleagues think the methane is coming from underground.

Organic molecules contain carbon and hydrogen, and can include oxygen, nitrogen, and other elements. This indicates that back then, favorable conditions on Mars might have allowed life to emerge and populate the planet.

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