"What Are These 'Building Blocks' of Life" They Found on Mars?

Life on Mars? NASA’s Curiosity rover discovers ancient evidence on the red planet

Nasa says organic matter found at the bottom of a crater on the Red Planet suggests there might have been life there once.

NASA's Mars Helicopter, a small, autonomous rotorcraft, which will travel with the agency's Mars 2020 rover, now scheduled to launch in July 2020, to demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet, is shown in this artist rendition from NASA/JPL in Pasadena, California, U.S. May 11, 2018.

Humayan is a professor of geochemistry at Florida State Univeristy and on staff at the FSU-headquartered National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.

The two studies appear in the journal Science.

NASA's Curiosity rover has found new science "results" on Mars and the agency will disclose the findings at a press conference that starts at 11.30 p.m. India time on Thursday.

Additionally, the discovered organic substances are not the first to be found on the planet, though they are the most ancient.

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Curiosity's latest data reveal that the watery lake that once filled Mars's Gale Crater contained complex organic molecules about 3.5 billion years ago. "That pessimistic possibility that has lurked as a fear at the back of everyone's minds may just have been changed forever".

While such organic compounds could have been produced by ancient life - or could have provided a food source for ancient organisms - it is also possible that the molecules were created in the complete absence of life. Thiophenes are the simplest sulphur-containing aromatic compounds (aromatic refers to how the molecules are bonded together) and it occurs with benzene in coal tar. She said the discoveries break down some of the strongest arguments put forward by life-on-Mars skeptics, herself included.

Although the media and the scientific community had speculated that NASA would today announce clear evidence of the existence of life on Mars, today's message means only one more step in that direction. Not exactly, but NASA describes it as a "good sign" in the quest for life on Mars.

"While we don't know the source of the material, the awesome consistency of the results makes me think we have a slam-dunk signal for organics on Mars", Jennifer Eigenbrode, a biogeochemist at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, explained.

Curiosity also has confirmed seasonal increases of methane in the Martian atmosphere. Kate told Live Science that it is a big deal to find organic compounds in rocks aged 3.5 billion years. "The first one would be life, which we don't know about".

Since Curiosity landed on Mars in 2012, only recent drills into the Mars' gale crater show evidence of life. "And it makes us more confident that if biomarkers" - or direct evidence of biologic activity - "are there, we might find them".

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