It’s official: Curiosity, NASA’s car-sized rover created to tread on Mars’ Gale Crater, uncovered proof in the form of organic molecules and a “mysterious” methane that lead us to think that the Red Planet could have been lived in by ancient life.
Today, Mars’ surface readily breaks down organics making it difficult to detect but did it once have the right conditions to be inhabited?
“Curiosity has not determined the source of the organic molecules,” said Jen Eigenbrode of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Whether it holds a record of ancient life, was food for life, or has existed in the absence of life, organic matter in Martian materials holds chemical clues to planetary conditions and processes.”
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Organic materials contain carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and other elements which are associated with our existence but before you start packing your bags and planning an escape trip to outer space, we have to tell you – this discovery does not necessarily mean we’ll be fulfilling our childhood dreams of visiting E.T. some time soon (maybe that’s just me!) but these carbon-based molecule findings are essential to the presence of life as we know it.
“Are there signs of life on Mars?” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, at NASA Headquarters. “We don’t know, but these results tell us we are on the right track.”