NASA rover finds building blocks of life on Mars

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Though it is not capable of supporting life today, there is evidence it could have in the past, and now the Curiosity rover has discovered organic molecules that may suggest there were areas that could have enabled life to exist.

But National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientists emphasized there could be nonbiological explanations for both discoveries made by the Curiosity rover at a site called Gale crater, leaving the issue of Martian life a tantalizing but unanswered question.

Humayan is a professor of geochemistry at Florida State Univeristy and on staff at the FSU-headquartered National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.

"What this new study is showing in some detail is the discovery of complex and diverse organic compounds in the sediments".

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.

However, ten Kate says that it is not surprising to find organic matter on Mars because it can not be compared to items like pieces of flesh, dead cells or tufts of grass.

"This is a significant breakthrough because it means there are organic materials preserved in some of the harshest environments on Mars". "Curiosity has shown that Gale Crater was habitable around 3.5 billion years ago, with conditions comparable to those on the early Earth, where life evolved around that time. That pessimistic possibility that has lurked as a fear at the back of everyone's minds may just have been changed forever".

NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover snaps a self-portrait at a site called Vera Rubin Ridge on the Martian surface in this image obtained on Friday. — Reuters
NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover snaps a self-portrait at a site called Vera Rubin Ridge on the Martian surface in this image obtained on Friday. — Reuters

They could be evidence for the development of ancient life on Mars but they could also have come from a meteorite or other sources, Efe reported.

The new findings - "tough" organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere - appear in the June 8 edition of the journal Science.

The third theory we've all been wanting to prove it's true is that methane could be created by life on Mars.

"There's three possible sources for the organic material", said astrobiologist Jennifer Eigenbrode of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. "We are on the right track!"

"And maybe we can find something better preserved than that, that has signatures of life in it", she said. Over the last six years, Curiosity has analyzed samples of soil and rocks for signs of organic matter, which is characterized by complex carbon chains that form the building blocks of life here on Earth.

In addition to finding organic molecules in the rocks in Gale Crater, rover scientists are reporting another intriguing finding.

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