Energy

NASA’s Mars Rover Finds Red Planet Has Organic Material ‘All Over’

(REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

NASA’s Mars rover found evidence organic material is “all over” the Red Planet.

The space agency’s Curiosity rover found numerous organic molecules in samples it drilled out from rocks and then chemically analyzed. Organic molecules were also present on the Martian surface.

“I am convinced that organics are all over Mars,” Dr. Jennifer Eigenbrode, a biogeochemist and geologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement. “They’re all over the surface and they’re probably through the rock record. What that means is something we’ll have to talk about.”

NASA scientists aren’t sure where the organic molecules came from or how they managed to survive in the harsh radioactive environment on Mars. Curiosity’s mission was to determine if Mars had the chemical ingredients and suitable environments to support life.

The new study is just the latest to determine that The Red Planet may have contained habitats that can potentially support life. Other obersvations from the rover indicate that Mars had an environment that could have supported life for well over 100 million years.

Scientists at the University of Texas published research in November that said some volcanic areas on Mars could be ideal chemical environment for life to develop and flourish even in the present day. Lava from volcanoes and ice from glaciers would combine to form a fairly warm environment by Martian standards and have access to a lot of water ice, and potentially even liquid water.

Geologists announced in September that they found hydrogen, a critical component necessary to support life, can be produced by earthquakes on Earth. They concluded that the same kind of “Marsquakes” could produce hydrogen on Mars, removing a major barrier to life. The Red Planet’s atmosphere is rich in oxygen, so an ample supply of hydrogen could mean that water is more common on Mars than generally believed.

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