Arriving at Mars in 2012 with a drill and its own onboard labs, Curiosity confirmed the presence of organics in rocks in 2013, but the molecules weren't exactly what scientists expected. Data from Curiosity reveal that billions of years ago, a water lake inside Gale Crater held all the ingredients necessary for life, including chemical building blocks and energy sources.
"Whether it holds a record of ancient life, was food for life, or has existed in the absence of life, organic matter in Martian materials holds chemical clues to planetary conditions and processes". (3) report a strong seasonal variation in atmospheric methane, the simplest organic molecule, in the martian atmosphere. Curiosity has had a somewhat rough go of things over the past few months, breaking its drilling mechanism and having to totally relearn how to use its tool in a new way so that it can continue to pierce Martian rocks. This latest discovery adds evidence that Mars may have been capable of supporting life in its ancient past, though there's still no evidence that life had actually existed on the Red Planet. That's because the surface of Mars is constantly bombarded with radiation that can break down organic compounds. "We also don't know if that methane was created from rock chemistry or it was created by microbes".
The studies on methane and on organic molecules were published Thursday in the journal Science.
Dr Eigenbrode hopes further details about the nature of the carbon molecules will emerge with future missions, such as the European Space Agencies ExoMars Mission or NASA's Mars 2020 mission. But it is the preservation of the material that is important - if there is this much organic matter preserved close to the surface, then there should be even better protected material at greater depths. What do we stand to gain from these missions anyway?
What they claimed they had discovered was a fossilised micro-organism in a Martian meteorite, which they argued was evidence that there has once been life on the Red Planet. "If you explore both of those paths forward, it's astounding", Eigenbrode said.
Some of the new science instruments included on the next Mars rover include an X-ray spectrometer, ultraviolet laser, excited rings of carbon atoms, and a ground-penetrating radar that will allow the space agency to look under the surface of Mars up to 30 feet deep depending on terrain.
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European leaders in Brussels, already anxious about Poland and Hungary, now worry a menace to European unity from inside its core. She added: "In addition I can imagine the possibility of a credit line that is short-term, five years for example".
Curiosity has detected organics embedded in the sediments of the "Pahrump Hills" area of Gale Crater.
A second analysis by SAM found evidence of larger organic compounds five centimeters (two inches) below the surface of Mars at the site of a lake that dried up billions of years ago. They are fairly certain that it comes from melting water-based crystals, called clathrates, buried just below the planet's surface.
"Are there signs of life on Mars?"
There's enough ambient carbon and hydrogen in the solar system that they react to form basic organic compounds pretty frequently, even without biology involved, ten Kate said.
"It could be from rock processes", processes that have been going on during the billions of years since Mars formed. But they could also be the result of abiotic chemical reactions on the surface of the planet. And NASA didn't launch another mission to Mars for over a decade.