Life on Mars: NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finds Intriguing Carbon Signatures

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NASA mentioned its Curiosity rover, searching for indicators of life on Mars’ Gale Crater, has discovered intriguing carbon signatures. While that is no particular suggestion that Curiosity has discovered proof of historical microbial life, it does, nonetheless, counsel its chance. The rover has been accumulating powdered rock samples on the Red Planet’s floor. When scientists analysed them, they discovered a number of of the samples have been wealthy in a kind of carbon that’s related to organic processes on Earth, the area company mentioned. Carbon is a key component on Earth and will maintain very important details about the Martian setting.

Scientists don’t wish to get forward of themselves and are sustaining that they’re but to seek out conclusive supporting proof of life — equivalent to sedimentary rock formations produced by historical micro organism or variety of advanced natural molecules fashioned by life on Mars. They additionally warning that the 2 planets are very completely different and Earth examples shouldn’t be extrapolated to Mars.

Curiosity scientists revealed their findings within the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal on January 18. In this paper, the scientists have supplied a number of explanations for the “unusual carbon signals” they detected. In a blog post, NASA mentioned the organic clarification within the paper is impressed by life on Earth. Two different hypotheses supply non-biological explanations. One of them says the carbon signature may have been a results of interplay between ultraviolet mild and carbon dioxide fuel. The different means that the carbon may have been left behind from a uncommon occasion tons of of hundreds of thousands of years in the past when the photo voltaic system handed by an enormous molecular cloud.

“We’re finding things on Mars that are tantalizingly interesting, but we would really need more evidence to say we’ve identified life,” mentioned Paul Mahaffy, who served as a principal investigator of a chemistry lab aboard Curiosity till his retirement in December 2021. “So we’re looking at what else could have caused the carbon signature we’re seeing, if not life.”

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