Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Research | By Dana Schwartz

Mars Rover Curiosity Finds More Clues to the Potential for Life

Mars Rover Curiosity Finds More Clues to the Potential for Life

The European Space Agency's ExoMars spacecraft, due to land in 2020, will be able to drill more than six feet down into pristine martian soils and examine samples with its on-board suite of instruments.

Curiosity also measured an unexpectedly large seasonal cycle in the low levels of atmospheric methane.

Although tantalizing, the two findings remain far from definitive when it comes to past or present life on Mars.

So, just where did the methane come from in the first place? We also know that Mars was once warmer and had a denser atmosphere, important requirements for life as we know it.

Freeman says finding organic molecules only a few centimeters below the surface of Mars is an encouraging sign for finding possible life. "Now we can direct future missions in that direction".

One big reason, ten Kate said, is that it's not actually that surprising.

Ever since, scientists have ardently hunted for Mars's missing carbon-or at least an explanation for its absence.

The Curiosity rover, launched in 2011 with about $2.5 billion worth of scientific equipment with the intent of exploring and analyzing Mars' Gale Crater.

Naturally, the usual UFO fans have jumped on this and are suggesting it's probably aliens - or at least some sign of life on the Red Planet.

The term "organic" means something different to a chemist than it does to a produce manager at a grocery store.

However, the environment in which the mudstones were deposited - a 3.5-billion-year-old lake bed - would have been altered in other ways as the sediments settled and compressed to become rock. Now Curiosity shows that these carbon-based compounds do indeed exist. The 96-mile crater, named for Australian astronomer Walter F. Gale, was most likely formed by meteor impact between 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago.

U.S. first lady Melania Trump to skip G7, North Korea summit
Huffington Post notes "working " is a favourite idiom used by the president , particularly in regards to talking about the media. Grisham told the AP the first lady would like to be "out and about promoting her initiatives" but "her health comes first".

Dutch queen's sister dies in Argentina
Between 2009 and 2011 she worked at the United Nations headquarters of Panama but returned to Argentina in 2012 after a breakup. She has since canceled her forthcoming engagements including a state visit to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania next week.

Kanye West releases highly-anticipated album ye
She wants to make it clear that " Kanye West did not purchase the picture from me or my son [Shayne Brown]". Kid Cudi , Ty Dolla $ign, and Nicki Minaj appear on the seven-track release.

Despite this latest discovery's patchwork nature, George Cody, a geochemist at the Carnegie Institution for Science who was not involved in the work, considers it an impressive step forward.

Biogeochemist and geologist Jen Eigenbrode of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center is lead author of one of the two new Science papers, the one related to organic molecules.

"We have just satisfied a mission objective for Curiosity", says Jennifer Eigenbrode, study lead author and a member of the Mars Science Laboratory mission team.

Here on Earth, 95 percent of all methane molecules are the product of living chemistry. Methane is also quickly broken down by ultraviolet radiation, so any of the gas discovered on Mars was probably released recently. Gale Crater's rim is visible on the horizon. The changes were observed over three Martian years, which are equivalent to almost half a dozen Earth years. "It's like having a problem with your vehicle", he says. One of their most hard tasks is to prove that the carbon they find is biogenic, and not produced through non-living, geological processes. That could even be happening beneath the surface now, the researchers said.

Other scientists who did not take part in the research had mixed reviews on findings' significance in the search for life.

Methane in the martian atmosphere has been detected before, but only in isolated patches or plumes of higher concentrations, not in any repeatable pattern.

"When you work with something as insane as a rover on Mars, with the most complex instrument ever sent to space, it seems like we're doing what may have been perceived earlier as impossible", says lead author Jennifer Eigenbrode, a biogeochemist at NASA Goddard.

In addition, methane's observed behavior on Mars is weird.

But the scientists can not say what the larger molecules were or how they formed.

"It could have been from meteorites", she says.

Like this: