Possible sign of life on Mars!!

Possible sign of life on Mars!!
Possible sign of life on Mars!!
Discover .’s Curiosity roverNASA agency Some interesting organic compounds on the Red Planet that could be signs of ancient Martian life, but it would take a lot of work to test this hypothesis.

A new study shows that some of the crushed rock samples collected by the rover Curiosity over the years contain organic matter rich in a type of carbon associated here on Earth with life.

But Mars is very different from Earth, and many of the processes that happen on Mars remain a mystery so it’s too soon to know why the chemicals are so interesting.

The rover Curiosity landed inside the 154-kilometre-wide Gale Crater in August 2012 on a mission to determine if the area could support microbial life. It was quickly determined that Gale Crater was a potential habitat for life billions of years ago, and it harbors a lake system likely to last for millions of years at a time.

The new study, which will be published today (January 18, 2022) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at twenty samples of rock powder collected by the Curiosity rover using a borer at a variety of locations between August 2012 and July 2021. The samples are in a small lab on the probe itself, which can identify and characterize organic matter – the carbon-containing molecules that are the building blocks of life on Earth.

He found that nearly half of these samples are rich in carbon-12, the lighter of the two stable isotopes of carbon, compared to previous measurements of Martian meteorites and the Martian atmosphere. (Isotopes are versions of an element that have different numbers of neutrons in their atomic nuclei. Carbon 12 has six neutrons, and the less abundant carbon 13 has seven.)

These high carbon 12 samples were obtained from five different locations within Gale Crater, all of which included ancient surfaces that have been well preserved through the ages.

Here on Earth, living things use carbon-12 for their metabolism, so its presence in ancient rock samples is generally interpreted as a biochemical signal. According to the study, carbon cycles on Mars are not well understood enough to make similar assumptions on the Red Planet.

There are three possible explanations for the carbon signal: one involves Martian microbes that produce methane, which is then converted into more complex organic molecules after interacting with ultraviolet radiation in the red planet’s air. Curiosity roaming probe as samples.

But similar interactions involving ultraviolet light and non-biological carbon dioxide, the gas most abundant in Mars’ atmosphere, could also generate the result, and it’s also possible that the Solar System passed through a giant carbon-12-rich molecular cloud long ago.

Overall, all three explanations fit the data, so more data is needed to better understand the matter.

The new discovery is interesting because the samples are rich in carbon 12, but the rover Curiosity has discovered organic compounds on Mars before.

For example, organic matter was previously detected in rock powder samples. The six-wheeled roving probe has also detected plumes of methane, the simplest organic molecule, on multiple occasions.

It’s unclear what the gaseous Mars methane is producing or how old it is. For example, the compound might be produced by microbes actively metabolizing under today’s frozen surface of Mars. It could alternatively be produced by subsurface reactions between rocks and hot water, with no life. It could also be ancient matter, Produced either by living organisms or abiotically, they were trapped beneath the surface long ago and sometimes “leak” on the surface today.

There are ideas to get the probe to move through another methane plume and determine its carbon-12 content, and to explore the origins of this organic matter further, but that takes a lot of luck, since it is unpredictable when and where such plumes will appear.

More useful data can also be obtained from another probe on Mars – Perseverance, a NASA rover that landed inside a different crater on the red planet in February 2021. Perseverance is looking for signs of ancient Martian life and collecting dozens of samples that will be returned to Earth for analysis. Perhaps in the early 2031 year.

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