Is this the discovery of Martians?
The findings were also remarkable in that they showed that organic material can be preserved for billions of years on the harsh Martian surface. In this case, the scientists couldn't tell how these organics were formed. And this discovery ushers in a new phase in the search for life on Mars. Pictured, a computer-generated view depicting part of Mars at the boundary between darkness and daylight, with an area including Gale Crater beginning to catch morning light.
Curiosity rover on Mars. The host of the session, assistant director of science for communications in NASA's Planetary Science Division Michelle Thaller, began by clearing up any rumors that the agency would announce that they had found alien life. "It probably indicates more active water in the subsurface than we understood", scientist Kirsten Siebach, Martian geologist at Rice University not involved with the studies, told Gizmodo. Are they from life?' The one experimental result that wasn't an outright "no" was controversial. And NASA didn't launch another mission to Mars for over a decade. The innumerable technological advances which space explorations have given us? Serpentinisation is still on the table, as are minute traces delivered by asteroids, and other chemical processes. So what if scientists were able to drill 10 meters, 100 meters, 1,000 meters? The scientists took questions from the public as they revealed increasingly more information about Curiosity's latest developments. "It had the ability to support life-but doesn't mean life were there".
There is already plenty of evidence to suggest that billions of years ago Mars was far from the dry and barren planet we see today.
"That is a good place for life to have lived if it ever existed on Mars", she said. Finding organics is critical.
Organic molecules contain carbon and hydrogen, and also may include oxygen, nitrogen and other elements.
On Mars, organic molecules could have been produced by some form of either present or past lifeforms. This is also when life was evolving on our own planet. So they looked elsewhere. Regardless of how these molecules originated, they are a key sign of habitability.
The data, collected through drilling into the lowest point of the red planet's gale crater, is part of the U.S. space agency's newly widened search for organic molecules that could indicate past life on the surface of Mars. So like the organic molecules, it's not an unambiguous biosignature. Based on the masses of the detected gases, the scientists could determine that the complex organic matter consisted of aromatic and aliphatic components including sulfur-containing species such as thiophenes. "We were just blown away", he said.
A set of geological results recently delivered courtesy of Curiosity's drill bit provides a deeper understanding of the organic chemistry of the 300-million-year-old mudstone in two separate parts of Gale crater.
"There's three possible sources for the organic material", said astrobiologist Jennifer Eigenbrode of Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Such tests could come soon, via data from the joint European and Russian ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter.
NASA will use both these discoveries to inform the design of its upcoming Mars 2020 rover. The Wikipedia article on "organic matter" makes the point: "Organic molecules can also be made by chemical reactions that don't involve life".
No matter its objective, these work as "chemical clues" for researchers about Mars.
The next stage might not be just about past life, Pontefract says.
"Are there signs of life on Mars?"
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox. But for this sample, Eigenbrode and her colleagues only analyzed the gases that were released above 400 degrees Celsius. On Earth, such carbon-rich compounds are one of life's cornerstones. Hints of them are still preserved in sulfur-spiked rocks derived from lake sediments.