Curiosity has discovered new "tough" organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks on Mars, increasing the chances that the record of habitability and potential life could have been preserved on the Red Planet, despite extremely harsh conditions on the surface that can easily break down organic molecules.
It's been six years since the Mars rover Curiosity landed on the Red Planet, and now it seems that the space vehicle has some news to share. Given that here on Earth, methane is largely created by plants and animals, some scientists are suggesting this means the same can be said for the methane on Mars, although it can also be produced by non-biological processes too.
Humayan is a professor of geochemistry at Florida State Univeristy and on staff at the FSU-headquartered National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.
The details about the research will also be published on Thursday in Science- which is one of the top scientific journals.
Finding ancient carbon preserved right on the Martian surface gives scientists confidence that NASA's Mars 2020 rover and the European Space Agency's ExoMars rover will find even more organics, both on the surface and in the shallow subsurface. For what was said detected molecule is unknown.
Additionally, the discovered organic substances are not the first to be found on the planet, though they are the most ancient. Curiosity (a search robot - ed.) have shown that the lake that covered the bottom of Gale crater 3.5 billion years ago, it was potentially habitable. "That pessimistic possibility that has lurked as a fear at the back of everyone's minds may just have been changed forever". Researchers said they can't rule out a biological source. Or, did they came to Mars through comets or other space debris? Samples taken from two different drill sites on the lake bed have been found to contain complex organic molecules that look very similar to the fossilized building blocks of oil and gas on Earth.
"The question of whether life might have originated or existed on Mars is a lot more opportune now that we know that organic molecules were present on its surface at that time", Kate said.
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. Besides, Curiosity is confident: "I have not yet found life on Mars, but the signs do not deceive ..."
The breakthrough discovery was made with the help of NASA's Curiosity rover, which was charged with a mission to explore the Gale Crater and Martian geology and climate.