Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Mars discoveries advance case for possible life

NASA news conference Mars announcement NASANASA news The Curiosity Rover made two new discoveries on Mars
Elijah Vega | 08 June, 2018, 07:16

The scientists behind experiments conducted by the Curiosity rover are today reporting two results that make the Red Planet's story even more interesting.

The Mars Curiosity rover is sniffing methane in the Martian air but NASA researchers suspect that the distinctive gas-often a sign of life on Earth-may be leaking from buried deposits and not from microbes living on the Red Planet today, space agency scientists said Thursday.

NASA says the findings "suggest the planet could have supported ancient life" and serves as additional evidence dealing with the question concerning any current life on Mars.

The organic molecules, discovered in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, contain carbon and hydrogen, and might also include oxygen and nitrogen. This latest discovery adds evidence that Mars may have been capable of supporting life in its ancient past, though there's still no evidence that life had actually existed on the Red Planet.

Although there is not enough information to know whether the carbon molecules were created by biological or non-biological processes, it is possible that they could be a source of methane, Dr Eigenbrode said.

NASA officials discuss the findings of the Mars Curiosity rover. "A rigorous approach based on available evidence starts with the scientifically responsible default explanation that Mars is and always has been lifeless", Fries says. Organic molecules contain carbon, the chemical element central to life. "Both radiation and harsh chemicals break down organic matter", Eigenbrode continued. Though those molecules are commonly associated with organic life, NASA conceded that they could have been produced through other means.

Meanwhile, the scientists hope that the newly discovered methane cycle could lead them to understand where the gas originates and if it is a sign of life.

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"The Martian surface is exposed to radiation from space", said Jen Eigenbrode, a study author and research scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center. The Viking Project was the first United States mission to safely land spacecraft on the Martian surface, as well as send back images. This mudstone gradually formed billions of years ago from silt that accumulated at the bottom of the ancient lake.

"We don't know, but these results tell us we are on the right track"'. This is all written down: the Union Aerospace Corporation went digging around Mars-quite possibly lured in by the discovery of ancient organic material-one thing led to another, and they opened a portal to Hell. The rock samples were analyzed by SAM, which uses an oven to heat the samples (in excess of 900 degrees Fahrenheit, or 500 degrees Celsius) to release organic molecules from the powdered rock.

Three Mars years' worth of data shows that along with spikes in methane, levels swing between 0.24 and 0.65 parts per billion, peaking in the northern hemisphere summer.

It "defines how questions will be asked and pursued in the next stage of Mars exploration", Anbar, who was not involved in the study, told AFP by email.

That Mars possesses organic molecules is not surprising.

NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover snaps a self-portrait at a site called Vera Rubin Ridge on the Martian surface in February 2018 in this image obtained on June 7, 2018. If scientists keep drilling deeper and more widely, as they plan to do with the European and Russian space agencies' ExoMars rover and NASA's Mars 2020 mission, who knows what they might find?

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