Preserved Organic Matter Found by Mars Curiosity Rover

Curiosity: la Nasa dévoile ce que son rover a découvert sur Mars

A NASA rover has detected a bonanza of organic compounds on the surface of Mars and seasonal fluctuations of atmospheric methane in findings released on Thursday that mark some of the strongest evidence ever that Earth's neighbor may have harbored life.

In the mudstone that formed billions of years ago at the bottom of a lake, Curiosity discovered organic molecules, including thiophenes, benzene, toluene, and small carbon chains like propane or butane.

Curiosity discovered Methane in the atmosphere of Mars that displayed a "tenfold spike" on previous findings.

While the discovery is one of the most tantalising searches yet to indicate that biological processes were (or maybe still are) responsible for these organic materials, it is not definitive proof of life on Mars.

NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover snaps a self-portrait at a site called Vera Rubin Ridge on the Martian surface in February 2018 in this image obtained on June 7, 2018.

"While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet's surface and subsurface", NASA said in the announcement.

Curiosity observed that the amount of methane gas in the planet's atmosphere increased in the summer and decreased in the summer. Methane is another organic molecule.

NASA scientist Chris Webster confirmed that water has been found on the martian surface and has been present for "a very long time", which points strongly toward a "habitable environment". Kate told Live Science that it is a big deal to find organic compounds in rocks aged 3.5 billion years. However, scientists need more evidences and observations to draw any conclusions as it is premature to know how the compounds were created in the biological process.

Curiosity: la Nasa dévoile ce que son rover a découvert sur Mars

Humayun has done extensive work analyzing a Martian meteorite known as Black Beauty and has been published in prestigious journals such as Nature, Science, Meteoritics & Planetary Science and Earth & Planetary Science Letters.

Regardless, the detection is a technical achievement, said Williford, because it demonstrates that organic molecules can persist near Mars's surface for billions of years.

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

Again, while water-rock chemistry might have generated the methane, scientists can not rule out the possibility that the gas was produced by biological processes.

As with methane, there could well be nonbiological explanations for the presence of carbon-containing molecules on Mars, such as geologic processes or impacts by asteroids, comet, meteors and interplanetary dust.

Clearly, there are more questions about Mars that need answering.

Scientists have been seeking organic molecules on Mars ever since the 1976 Viking landers.

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