Plus, scientists don't know what the original molecules were before Curiosity heated the rocks to take the measurement, Utrecht University scientist Inge Loes ten Kate, who was not involved with the research, told Gizmodo.
Using Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars instrument - which heats soil and rock samples to examine their contents - astrobiologist Jennifer Eigenbrode and her colleagues were able to identify an array of interesting organic molecules: Ring structures known as aromatics, sulfur compounds and long carbon chains.
On top of that, after keeping close tabs on methane levels in the Martian atmosphere, scientists have finally confirmed something weird is definitely going on, and they think they know what's causing it. The results were published Thursday in the journal Science. This is all written down: the Union Aerospace Corporation went digging around Mars-quite possibly lured in by the discovery of ancient organic material-one thing led to another, and they opened a portal to Hell.
"These clathrates lock the methane inside a water-ice crystal structure and are incredibly stable for millions of years until environmental conditions change and suddenly they can release that gas", says Duffy.
Findings from Curiosity also reveal that a water lake inside Mars" Gale Crater once held all the "ingredients necessary for life", including "chemical building blocks and energy sources'. While water-rock chemistry might have produced those variations, NASA said it "cannot rule out the possibility of biological origins".
"[Curiosity's] molecular observations do not clearly reveal the source of the organic matter in [Gale Crater]".
That stuff is thought to be spread throughout the solar system, she said. Still, this discovery is very encouraging in the context of what we know about Mars in the distant past. "It was a big surprise", says Caroline Freissinet, an astrobiologist and co-author on Curiosity's mudstone study at the Atmosphere, Media, Spatial Observations Laboratory (LATMOS) in France. "It slowed down the whole Mars program, unfortunately". The Viking Project was the first United States mission to safely land spacecraft on the Martian surface, as well as send back images. The rover has returned a lot of fascinating science, but its latest discovery offers the best evidence yet for life on Mars. But early into the rover's mission, researchers discovered that carbon-rich chemical reagents were leaking out of some of SAM's components, potentially contaminating nearby samples.
"It's not that they haven't found a bit of organic matter before or even the methane in the atmosphere.it's that they've now definitively shown this to be the case".
That raises the obvious question: Where did the carbon come from? He also pointed out that as methane only lasts for 300 years in the atmosphere and any detections mean that it was created or released relatively recently. Alas, still no aliens: the rover found some rocks-some billion-year-old rocks-containing "ancient organic material".
This periodicity is to Webster the most exciting part of his team's results. Methane, found on Mars before in plumes or patches, has never been detected in instances that scientists had been able to see repeatedly. "If it doesn't repeat, you can't find out what it is". One of their most hard tasks is to prove that the carbon they find is biogenic, and not produced through non-living, geological processes.