July 16, 2024

NASA rover finds organic matter on Mars

NASA rover finds organic matter on Mars

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from: Tanya Banner

NASA’s Perseverance rover has been exploring Mars since February 2021 – and has already found organics. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

This is not the first time a NASA probe has found organic matter on Mars. But the new discoveries are especially important.

Pasadena – Is there life on Mars? This is one of the key research questions that researchers are working on with the help of several rovers. Now NASA’s Perseverance rover has found something exciting in this vein: The rover has detected a large number of organic molecules in the region of Mars it is traveling in.

This refers to molecules that are composed of carbon and often contain other elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous, or sulfur. Sunanda Sharma, a planetary scientist from Caltech, said: outlet Space.com.

NASA’s Curiosity Rover also struck gold on Mars

This isn’t the first time a NASA rover has detected organic molecules on Mars: Curiosity did just that a few years ago in the Red Planet’s Gale Crater. The discovery of organic molecules in another area on Mars – the “Perseverance” located in the Jezero crater – indicates, according to experts, that the building blocks of life are widely distributed over Mars and, above all, could have arisen through various mechanisms.

Sharma and her team have a study on the discovery in the journal nature published. To do this, the researchers analyzed data from the Sherlock tool from Perseverance. Among other things, the tool consists of a UV laser that stimulates the particles to fluoresce. The wavelength at which the molecules fluoresce can help researchers identify them. SHERLOC can also map the spatial distribution of organic materials in rocks and correlate them with the minerals found there. In this way, researchers can better understand the environment in which the organic compounds present were formed.

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Perseverance analyzes soil samples from Mars for NASA

The research team looked at data from two sites on Mars: Ma’adh and Intermediate. The researchers were able to detect organic material in all 10 samples taken by NASA’s rover at the two sites. The findings, Sharma says, “indicate the possibility that the building blocks of life have been present on Mars for a long time.”

With the help of SHERLOC, the researchers found many different classes of organic molecules that appeared in different patterns — most with minerals attached to water. However, experts were unable to identify the exact molecules. “To confirm the presence of organic matter and its specific types, we have to bring the samples back to Earth,” says Sharma. “This is our goal.” In fact, some of the samples Sherlock analyzed have been deposited on Mars for a future return mission to Earth – they could be examined more closely on Earth in the future.

Researchers want to analyze Martian rocks on Earth

Researchers have waited so long to finally be able to analyze Martian rocks on Earth, because from afar no one can tell exactly what organic molecules are — are they indicators of past or present life on Mars? Not necessarily, Sharma asserts: “It is important to arise through processes unrelated to life.” The researcher admits that opposite the gate Sciencealert.com Convinced: “This is an important piece of the puzzle we are creating about the presence, distribution and nature of organic matter on Mars.” (Tab)