Life on Mars
A new study published in the journal Science shows definitive evidence of organic matter on the surface of Mars. The data was collected by NASA's nuclear-powered rover Curiosity. It confirms earlier findings that the Red Planet once contained carbon-based compounds. These compounds – also called organic molecules – are essential ingredients for life as scientists understand it.
The organic molecules were found in Mars's Gale Crater, a large area that may have been a watery lake over three billion years ago. The rover encountered traces of the molecule in rocks extracted from the area. The rocks also contain sulfur, which scientists speculate helped preserve the organics even when the rocks were exposed to the harsh radiation on the surface of the planet.
Scientists are quick to state that the presence of these organic molecules is not sufficient evidence for ancient life on Mars, as the molecules could have been formed by non-living processes. But it's still one of the most astonishing discoveries, which could lead to future revelations.
Of course, this means further research is necessary. Scientists say they need to send new equipment to Mars, equipment that can measure the air and soil with more precision. There are already missions underway.
The possibility of life on Mars has fascinated humans for generations. It has been the subject of endless science-fiction novels and films. Are we alone in the universe or have there been other life forms within our Solar System? If the current missions to the Red Planet continue, it looks as if we may discover the answer very soon.