NASA’s Curiosity rover's latest findings could be the evidence of life on Mars
NASA’s Curiosity rover found rock samples on Mars that could contain possible evidence of life on the planet.
- These rock samples contain a type of carbon found on Earth.
- But there is more study to be conducted to actually determine if it does point at
life on Mars.
AdvertisementNASA launched its Curiosity rover back in 2011 to roam the surface of Mars and look for evidence of possible habitable conditions on the red planet. Powdered rock samples collected from the surface of Mars by Curiosity, were analysed by scientists and found that several of the samples are rich in a type of carbon found on Earth.
This type of carbon is associated with biological processes which hint at the possibility of Mars having habitable environments in the past. Why? Because carbon is found in all life on Earth – in the air, water and ground. But at the same time it doesn’t exactly mean that there could have been life on Mars as more research and evidence is required to make the claim.
The rock samples collected from Mars had large amounts of carbon 12 which is used by living creatures on Earth to metabolise food or for photosynthesis, NASA said in a blog. With the discovery of carbon 12 along with other evidence, scientists believe that this suggests signatures of life-related chemistry.
But despite the fact that the carbon signature discovered is the same as Earth’s there is still more research needed to understand if it’s biological and life-related or not since Mars is very different from Earth.
“Defining the carbon cycle on Mars is absolutely key to trying to understand how life could fit into that cycle. We have done that really successfully on Earth, but we are just beginning to define that cycle for Mars,” said Andrew Steele, a Curiosity scientist.
The study is going to continue and scientists will now see if a similar carbon signature is present in other sites of Mars that are known to have well-preserved ancient surfaces. Scientists also want to analyse the carbon content of a methane plume released from the red planet’s surface but that is only on the possibility of Curiosity encountering such a plume.
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