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Tech & Science NASA Curiosity Rover Finds Building Blocks of Life on Mars

02:31  10 june  2018
02:31  10 june  2018 Source:   popularmechanics.com

Building Blocks of Life Found on Mars

  Building Blocks of Life Found on Mars Two landmark discoveries reveal organic carbon on the red planet, shaping the future hunt for life on Mars.This engineering marvel, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, has revolutionized our understanding of the red planet. And thanks to the intrepid rover, we now know that ancient Mars had carbon-based compounds called organic molecules—key raw materials for life as we know it.

A NASA rover has found the building blocks of life on Mars . Mars has gas, and Curiosity finds organic matter -- fuzzy signs of life ? By Ben Brumfield, CNN.

Two rock samples taken by NASA 's Curiosity rover were found to contain organic molecules. NASA /JPL-Caltech/MSSS. For the first time, scientists say they have clear evidence that the chemical building blocks of life exist on Mars .

The Curiosity rover preparing to conduct a drill test at Mojave on January 13, 2015. © NASA/JPL-Caltech The Curiosity rover preparing to conduct a drill test at Mojave on January 13, 2015. NASA's flagship Mars rover, Curiosity, has been combing the surface of Mars for signs of life for almost six years. These hints of habitability, called biosignatures, can come in many forms-from unique sediment deposits to the abundance of certain gases in the thin Martian atmosphere.

One possible biosignature on Mars-or a sign leading to potential biosigantures-is the presence of organic compounds. Almost all molecules containing carbon are organic compounds, and these molecular structures are frequently produced and consumed by living organisms. There are other ways to produce organic compounds, so they are not a smoking gun for life-but they are an awfully good sign.

NASA loses contact with Mars rover in huge dust storm

  NASA loses contact with Mars rover in huge dust storm NASA's Opportunity rover has dropped out of contact with Earth in the midst of a massive dust storm on MarsEngineers are optimistic Opportunity will survive its trial by dust, but given its age and their emotional attachment to the hardy robot, they will not rest easy until skies clear enough for power levels to rise, allowing the rover to finally phone home.

NASA 's Mars rover Curiosity has identified a variety of organic molecules on the Red Planet's surface and found that methane levels vary seasonally in its air. The building blocks of life . The serious hunt for organics on Mars has a long and complicated history.

NASA 's Mars rover Curiosity just might be the latest in a long line of Mars -exploring robots to discover the building blocks for primitive life on the Red Planet. On March 12, NASA announced that Curiosity did indeed find proof that Mars was once habitable for primitive life in the ancient past.

And Curiosity just found an abundance of organic compounds on Mars.

Two studies (1, 2) published today in the journal Science solve past mysteries surrounding organic compounds on Mars. The first study found several new organic compounds in samples of ancient Martian mudstone that is roughly three billion years old, while the second charted seasonal fluctuations of one of the most basic organic compounds: methane.

The mudstone samples analyzed by Curiosity came from Confidence Hill and Mojave, two sites near the base of Mount Sharp in Gale crater. Curiosity drilled samples of mudstone in a region that is thought to have been a lake about three and a half billion years ago. The rover heated the Martian soil to above 500 degrees Celsius and analyzed the compounds released in the gases with its Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument. Numerous organic compounds were discovered, including thiophene, 2- and 3-methylthiophenes, methanethiol, and dimethylsulfide.

Life on Mars? Rover's Latest Discovery Puts It 'On the Table'

  Life on Mars? Rover's Latest Discovery Puts It 'On the Table' The identification of organic molecules in rocks on the red planet does not necessarily point to life there, past or present, but does indicate that some of the building blocks were present.Scientists for the first time have confidently identified on Mars a collection of carbon molecules used and produced by living organisms.

Nasa streamed a conference last night during which they announced that their Curiosity rover has found organic matter on Mars , suggesting that the planet once homed life .

Organic matter has been found on Mars in soil samples taken from 3 billion-year-old mudstone in the Gale crater by the Curiosity rover , NASA announced The search for life outside Earth focuses on the building blocks of life as we know it, which includes organic compounds and molecules

The researchers, led by NASA biogeochemist and geologist Jennifer Eigenbrode, note that because the organic molecules differ by just one carbon sidechain, they may be fragments of larger and more complex molecules. Eigenbrode says that fact strengthens the evidence that the region in Gale crater could have been habitable in the distant past.

a close up of a map: This illustration shows the ways in which methane from the subsurface might find its way to the surface where its uptake and release could produce a large seasonal variation in the atmosphere as observed by Curiosity. © NASA/JPL-Caltech This illustration shows the ways in which methane from the subsurface might find its way to the surface where its uptake and release could produce a large seasonal variation in the atmosphere as observed by Curiosity. Eigenbrode told Popular Mechanics in an email:

"The organic matter in the ~3.5 billion-year-old lake sediments could be from life, but it is not evidence of life since non-life processes could have also created organic matter that ended up in these rocks. Meteorites and geological processes can form organic molecules and are additional possible sources for the organic matter we found. [But] even if life was not present in the ancient lake, the organics could have been food for life and thus are considered another ingredient for supporting life. The finding reinforces the idea that the ancient lake was habitable, but we don’t know if it hosted life."

  NASA Curiosity Rover Finds Building Blocks of Life on Mars © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Additionally, Curiosity has been conducting in-situ measurements of methane in the atmosphere for three Martian years, or 55 Earth months. Previous trace amounts of methane have been detected on Mars, but the source of the gas which is produced in abundance by life on Earth-remained a mystery.

China is building a brand-new space station, and it may be the latest move in a new space race

  China is building a brand-new space station, and it may be the latest move in a new space race China is building a new space station, and officials say the whole world is invited to participate. China's UN ambassador, Shi Zhongjun, recently invited the whole world to participate in the new space station.

— NASA (@ NASA ) June 7, 2018. Meanwhile, NASA explains that it does not mean that they have discovered life on Mars . It is the technologically advanced rover , which has been built . The Curiosity was launched on Nov.

What has Nasa found on Mars ? Alien life ? According to the space agency, Curiosity rover discovered organic molecules after drilling mudstone, a type of sedimentary rock, in a handful of places in the Gale Crater.

A team led by JPL senior research scientist Chris Webster found that the methane on Mars fluctuates with the seasons, peaking locally at 0.65 parts per billion during late summer in the Northern hemisphere and dropping to as low as 0.24 parts per billion during the other half of the Martian year.

This seasonal methane cycle suggests to the researchers that the gas may have come from large deposits of water-based crystals called catharses underneath the Martian surface. Although these subterranean deposits might release and absorb methane with the seasons, the provenance of the gas is still a mystery. Methane is another organic compound that could have initially been produced or consumed by life, although it is also possible that natural geologic and chemical processes, such as erosion or delivery-by-meteorite, brought the methane to Mars as well.

From studying our own planet, we know that organic compounds are produced and consumed in abundance by life. Whether or not the organics Curiosity is finding on Mars today were produced by life in the distant past, or perhaps even feed subsurface microscopic Martians to this day, is still an unknown-but we are roving closer to the answer every sol.

NASA To Extend Juno Jupiter Mission By Three Years .
The Juno spacecraft currently orbiting Jupiter was supposed end its mission by crashing into the gas giant next month. Not any more! It turns out the scientific mission will be extended through at least 2021 so it can meet its goals, as Business Insider first reported yesterday. This will delay the probe's dramatic demise for at least a few years."NASA has approved Juno to continue through 2022 to finish all of our originally planned science," Scott Bolton, Juno's principle investigator from the Southwest Research Institute, told Gizmodo in an email.

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