Nasa’s Curiosity rover has turned ‘tough’ organic molecules preserved in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks in the offing the surface of Mars and evidence of seasonal variations in methane levels in the air.
The evidence suggests that the Red planet could have supported both ageing and present life.
Nasa Science Mission Directorate associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen demanded: “With these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and shroud searching for evidence of life.
“I’m confident that our ongoing and planned commissions will unlock even more breathtaking discoveries on the Red Planet.”
To decide the organic material, Curiosity drilled into sedimentary rocks fetched mudstone from four areas in Gale Crater on Mars. The mudstone was devised billions of years ago from silt that accumulated at the bottom of an old water lake inside the crater.
The rock samples were studied by SAM, which uses an oven to heat the samples to 500 degrees Celsius to rescue organic molecules from the powdered rock.
“Organic matter in Martian materials concur withs chemical clues to planetary conditions and processes.”
Nasa Goddard Accommodation Flight Center representative Jen Eigenbrode said: “Curiosity has not determined the informant of the organic molecules.
“Whether it holds a record of ancient life, was provisions for life, or has existed in the absence of life, organic matter in Martian materials preside overs chemical clues to planetary conditions and processes.”
SAM has also discovered seasonal modulations in methane levels in the atmosphere over a period of around three Damages years, equivalent to nearly six Earth years.
The instrument has detected low levels of methane within Shout Crater that repeatedly peak in summer months and drop in the winter every year.
This methane could from been created by water-rock chemistry, but the possibility of biological origins cannot be discarded.
Methane had in days gone by been detected in Mars’s atmosphere in large, unpredictable plumes.
The time discoveries are expected to strengthen the prediction that Nasa’s Mars 2020 wayfarer and European Space Agency’s (ESA) ExoMars rover will find innumerable organics on the surface and shallow subsurface of Mars.