Ancient Organics Discovered on Mars

This latest evidence, however, is far more compelling.

And that did the trick.

Is this the discovery of Martians? The organic molecules preserved in 3 billion-year-old bedrock suggest conditions at Mars may have once been conducive to life. The organic material discovered on Mars is rich in sulphur, which would have also helped to preserve it.

But the scientists can not say what the larger molecules were or how they formed. The surface of Mars readily destroys these molecules, making them hard to detect.

This is apparent evidence of a large lake when ancient Mars was warmer and wetter than it is today.

Over five years, Curiosity has used its Tunable Laser Spectrometer to measure methane in the atmosphere at the Gale crater.

What has NASA found on Mars? Curiosity Rover's Twitter featured a cheeky call asking followers to tune it to see its findings.

That was the goal when NASA deployed Viking 1 and 2 in 1976, which were the first mechanical envoys to set foot on Mars. "Perhaps they were from life, or maybe there was just an additional nutrient here for life", Eigenbrode said. The one experimental result that wasn't an outright "no" was controversial.

"Ideally we want to get to samples that have not been irradiated". "It's on the table with all the other ones", Dr. Eigenbrode said. I want to know their story.

"We don't know if that methane is ancient or modern", Webster said in a press conference.

Scientists realized that they had to take a step back and try a more cautious, methodical approach. Together, the researchers believe these findings to be "breakthroughs in astrobiology".

"[Curiosity's] molecular observations do not clearly reveal the source of the organic matter in [Gale Crater]". More powerful spacecraft are needed to prove whether life ever existed on Mars.

The term "organic" means something different to a chemist than it does to a produce manager at a grocery store. This is the matter-chemically characterized as combinations of carbon, hydrogen, and other elements routinely found in biology like sulphur and oxygen-often associated with life.

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

All of the outside sources I spoke with said it's important to be skeptical about claims of life, extinct or otherwise, on the Red Planet. So they looked elsewhere. Regardless of how these molecules originated, they are a key sign of habitability.

NASA is remaining characteristically tight-lipped, but has confirmed the announcement will feature "new science results from NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover".

In the end, a few smidgens of organics remained, including benzene and propane molecules. So like the organic molecules, it's not an unambiguous biosignature.

Since it landed at the Gale Crater in 2012, the Curiosity Rover has been sniffing out methane in the area.

"The Martian surface is exposed to radiation from space", said Jen Eigenbrode, a study author and research scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center. But the planned ExoMars 2020 rover, part of a joint mission of the European Space Agency and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, will have a drill that can reach a depth of about 6.5 feet. "Both radiation and harsh chemicals break down organic matter".

Now, the rover has seemingly made a new discovery which will be revealed this Thursday, according to the space agency. It also signals the next step in our astrobiological investigation of Mars. "Whether there was in the past or not is certainly an open question".

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

The next stage might not be just about past life, Pontefract says. "But it doesn't tell us that life was there".

It "defines how questions will be asked and pursued in the next stage of Mars exploration", Anbar, who was not involved in the study, told AFP by email. "And Mars always surprises us".