June 23, 2024

NASA rover finds organic matter on Mars

In concrete terms, this includes molecules that are composed of carbon and often contain other elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, or sulfur, which in their entirety are also known as the building blocks of life. NASA’s rover has detected organic molecules on Mars, much like the Curiosity rover before it.

Findings in different regions of Mars suggest that the building blocks of life may be widespread and may have arisen through different mechanisms.

The researchers analyzed data from the Sherlock tool from Perseverance and published a study on it in the journal Nature. The tool uses a UV laser to excite the particles to fluoresce, allowing them to be identified.

Sherloc can also map the spatial distribution of organic materials in rocks and correlate them with the minerals found there. This allows the researchers to better understand the environment in which the organic compounds were formed.

With Sherlock’s help, the researchers discovered different classes of organic molecules that often occur with minerals associated with water. However, precise identification of the particles was not possible. To confirm the presence and specific types of organic matter, samples must be returned to Earth.

This is the goal of the planned return mission. In fact, some of the samples Sherlock analyzed have been deposited on Earth for future study.

The research, which was led by a team of scientists including University of Florida astrobiologist Amy Williams, was published recently.

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