A NASA robot has found more building blocks for life on Mars, the most complex organic matter yet from 3.5 billion-year-old rocks on the surface of the red planet, the USA space agency said on Thursday.
U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) issued the following statement regarding NASA's Curiosity rover's groundbreaking discovery on Mars. "Curiosity has shown that Gale Crater was habitable around 3.5 billion years ago, with conditions comparable to those on the early Earth, where life evolved around that time".
"This is a very exciting discovery, but we cannot confirm the origin of these molecules yet, it could be a previous life test, but they could also belong to a meteorite or other sources", said a cautious Mahaffy in the same presentation. Even if in June 2013 and January 2014 the robot Nasa had already been able to find traces of methane, this is the first time that organic molecules have been detected.
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. Also opening was the data about seasonal fluctuations in the level of methane in the atmosphere. The molecules in the mudstone could have once enabled life to form in lakes when Mars still had liquid water on its surface and the methane could have been produced by life.
"The Martian surface is exposed to radiation from space". Although there was no way to directly date the organic material found within the rocks, it has to be at least as old as the rocks themselves. According to ten Kate, the recent findings leaves so many questions unanswered and calls for better equipment and extensive measurement hours.
Scientists do not exclude a biological origin of the methane, due to the fact that its level changes from season to season. 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?
The two studies appear in the journal Science.
Organic molecules contain carbon and hydrogen, and can include oxygen, nitrogen, and other elements. Not exactly, but NASA describes it as a "good sign" in the quest for life on Mars. For what was said detected molecule is unknown.
By examining data spanning almost three Martian years (six Earth years), Webster and his colleagues discerned the first repeating pattern in Martian methane.
Christopher Webster, an atmospheric science research fellow at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, said it is possible existing microbes are contributing to the Martian atmospheric methane, said a report by news agency Reuters.