NASA’s Curiosity rover finds organic matter on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity rover finds organic matter on Mars

The European Space Agency plans to launch its own rover in a few years and NASA is building a powerful follow-on to Curiosity, the Mars 2020 rover, that will be equipped with even more powerful instruments to advance the search for life.

A NASA rover has detected a bonanza of organic compounds on the surface of Mars and seasonal fluctuations of atmospheric methane, in findings that mark some of the strongest evidence ever that Earth's neighbour may have harboured life. Scientists already knew billions of years ago liquid water existed on Mars and the crater had an ancient lake. It has also found evidence in Mars' atmosphere, relating to the search for current life on the red planet. The rover's labs also confirmed seasonal fluctuations of methane in the Martian atmosphere.

NASA's scientists saw "fragments" of organic molecules that were similar to those found in sedimentary rock on Earth.

To identify organic material in the Martian soil, Curiosity drilled into sedimentary rocks known as mudstone from four areas in Gale Crater. Unfortunately, the new findings do not allow us to say anything about the presence or absence of life on Mars now or in the past.

The compounds might have come from a meteorite, or from geological formations akin to coal and black shale on Earth, or some form of life, Eigenbrode said.

JPL's Christopher Webster, lead author on the study, said it's the first time Martian methane has shown a repeated pattern.

While another indication that Mars might once have supported life, it is not conclusive proof, the U.S. space agency was keen to assert. Some of our planet's earliest organisms may have been methanogens - microbes that eat organic molecules and exhale methane gas.

Sons of Anarchy actor Alan O'Neill dead at 47
According to TMZ , an autopsy will be carried out to determine the cause of death, but police aren't treating it as suspicious. Entrepreneur Shawn Steiner posted: "Just heard my long time friend passed away this morning Alan O'Neil - RIP my friend".

"With these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and keep searching for evidence of life", said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in Washington.

Despite their unknown origin, the discovery of organics adds further evidence that the Gale Crater could have been an ancient lake or lakes that could have supported microbial life. Nearly exactly a year ago, NASA reported the discovery of such evidence in the form of an ancient lake that would have been suitable for microbial life to not only survive but flourish.

Webster explains that the seasonal cycle of methane is most likely due to reservoirs of old or new methane - produced either from life or abiotically - being stored in the cold Martian subsurface in water-based crystals called clathrates. These salts can break down into oxygen and chlorine when heated at 200˚C and destroy organic molecules. The methane signal has been observed for almost 3 Martian years (nearly 6 Earth years), peaking each summer. The whole exercise discovered molecules like thiophenes, benzene, and toluene indicating the presence of hydrogen and carbon, with the latter existing in concentrations higher than 10 parts per million. The release of methane is an active process on Mars, which could suggest new things about what's unfolding on the Red Planet.

We already knew that Mars' atmosphere contained large unpredictable plumes of methane gas, what we didn't fully understand is where the gas is coming from.

"We don't know if that methane is ancient, we don't know if it's modern - it could be either", Webster said.

"This is a significant breakthrough because it means there are organic materials preserved in some of the harshest environments on Mars", said the lead author of one of two studies in Science, Jennifer Eigenbrode, an astrobiologist at NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center.

Related News:



Most liked

Paul Ryan says no proof Federal Bureau of Investigation spied on Trump campaign
But in a release, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said the committee is cooperating with the department. Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., originally requested documents on the informant in April.

Kinder Morgan INC Del (KMI) Stake Maintained by Camden Asset Management LP
The company's shares were assimilated at $17.1 per share worth to an investment of some $51,300 on account of Martin Thomas A. The pipeline company reported $0.22 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.21 by $0.01.

Kane agrees new six-year Tottenham contract
Kane is now the leading scorer in the Premier League era for Tottenham after surpassing Teddy Sheringham's total of 97. He scored 41 goals in all competitions throughout the campaign, including a personal best of 30 in the Premier League.

Rob Whittaker's UFC middleweight title fight abandoned over 90 grams
UFC main event fights in pay-per-view events have been dropping like flies these past few months and UFC 225 is no different. UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker easily hit the mark, but after a hard cut, his opponent, Yoel Romero did not.

Chinese hackers 'steal U.S. navy data on undersea warfare and supersonic missiles'
Staffers worked out of an MSS division in Guangdong Province, where a major foreign hacking operation is located. The investigation is being led by the Navy with the assistance of the FBI, officials said.

Trump says Canada's Trudeau is 'being so indignant' in trade spat
The Canadian prime minister has called the decision " totally unacceptable " and " insulting " during various media appearances. Macron seemed resigned to that prospect, noting Trump had not signed a recent G20 declaration on tackling global warming.

WED: FG urged to implement policies on production, use of plastics
The report noted, by some estimates, as many as five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. Besides a problem with plastics, India is also home to some of the most polluted cities in the world .

Jordan's king appoints new prime minister as protests rage
The monarch, who has the ultimate say on policy decisions, promised change, but gave no specifics on possible reforms. Until Mulki took office, governments had repeatedly pushed back the increase in bread prices and tax changes.

Melania Doesn't Believe Trump Had Sex with Stormy Daniels, Rudy Giuliani Says
Giuliani said the $130,000 that Daniels was paid as part of the nondisclosure agreement was "like a nuisance thing". Melania Trump has not publicly commented on Daniels' allegations against her husband.

Trooper stops retired cop who delivered him 27 years ago
Bailly was pulled over Friday because of tinted windows on his vehicle and was advised to correct the problem, police said. The retired officer told Patterson he knew the street because 27 years ago he helped deliver a baby on that street.

Amazon Fire TV Cube puts Alexa in control of your home entertainment
Essentially, imagine the way you use an Echo Dot now to control all the wirelessly connected appliances around your home . Amazon just announced its first new Fire TV product since the 4K Fire TV debuted in 2017, and it looks pretty fantastic.

More U.S. Diplomats Evacuated After Possible ‘Sonic Attack’ in China
One of the study's authors, Randel Swanson, described the symptoms as being "like a concussion without a concussion". Some were struggling with concentration or common word recall, the Associated Press has reported .

Senate panel wants answers from Facebook about data access report
A look at the lawsuit filed against Facebook CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg and why he's being accused of weaponizing data. In what Facebook says was misuse of the data, the contractor sold it to Cambridge to build voter-profiling technology.

NASA chief in talks with companies about running ISS
Some of the luck-bringing customs date back to space pioneer Yuri Gagarin, but the blessing was first introduced in the 1990s. Since then, astronauts have paid more than $70 million per seat for a ride to the ISS on Russia's Soyuz spaceships.

Gaza Remembers Razan Najjar, Nurse Shot Dead by Israeli Forces
The strikes come after militants broke days of calm along the volatile frontier by firing projectiles toward Israeli communities. The second Palestinian, who was with the man, fled after they damaged Israel's security fence, a military spokesman said.