Nasa UNCOVERS evidence of LIFE on Mars in latest SHOCK revelations

Nasa UNCOVERS evidence of LIFE on Mars in latest SHOCK revelations

'I'm confident that our ongoing and planned missions will unlock even more breathtaking discoveries on the Red Planet'.

However, if life was ever present on the red planet, the new results make the best case yet that evidence for it can persist and could one day be found by future probes that can penetrate deeper than the five-centimetre length of Curiosity's drill.

"We can find organic matter preserved in mudstones that are more than 3 billion years old".

A NASA robot has detected complex organic matter on Mars in a "significant breakthrough" in the hunt for life on the planet.

And while methane had previously been found in Mars' atmosphere in "large, unpredictable plumes", NASA said it has now found methane levels that follow seasonal trend changes with more methane appearing in warm summer months before dropping in the winter.

The methane could simply be the product of basic geological processes, but it's possible the gas has origins in biological sources.

The Curiosity rover, launched in 2011 with about $2.5 billion worth of scientific equipment with the intent of exploring and analyzing Mars' Gale Crater.

The search for organic molecules actually began on Mars in 1976 via Viking 1 and II, so the finding of them by Curiosity is an achievement a long time coming. However, whether such life ever existed on Mars remains the big unknown.

Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite was involved in both the methane discovery and the organic molecule discovery. It arrived at Mars in 2016 and is now mapping concentrations of methane and other gases from on high. All we can say from the data is that there is complex organic matter similar to what is found in many equivalent aged rocks on the Earth. After all, these are just organic molecules on their own, so we're still in the stage of chemistry, rather than biology. Organic material can be produced without life.


"We don't know", Eigenbrode says. Combined with high-energy ultraviolet light and cosmic rays streaming in from space, perchlorates would destroy any organic material on the surface, leaving little to be seen by carbon-seeking landers and rovers.

Curiosity's methane measurements occurred over four-and-a-half Earth years, covering parts of three Martian years.

The Curiosity rover has lasted three times as long as it was meant to and is still going, which helped with the study of seasonal methane cycles.

"For the first time we have something that we can get a handle on", said Dr Webster of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. While commonly associated with life, organic molecules also can be created by non-biological processes and are not necessarily indicators of life, NASA says.

In December 2012, the rover's two-year mission was extended indefinitely. The host of the session, assistant director of science for communications in NASA's Planetary Science Division Michelle Thaller, began by clearing up any rumors that the agency would announce that they had found alien life.

On Earth, we have a process by which underwater volcanoes interact with rock, producing methane that feeds bacteria. "So way under the ground this methane is trapped".

"There's a new mission in the planning where they'll be able to drill much deeper than the Curiosity rover can", Freeman says.

MIT News checked in with SAM team member Roger Summons, the Schlumberger Professor of Geobiology at MIT, and a co-author on the Science paper, about what the team's findings might mean for the possibility of life on Mars.

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