While these findings are not necessarily evidence of life on Mars, it is a "good sign for future missions exploring the planet's surface and subsurface", according to NASA. Those molecules are familiar building blocks for life here on Earth, including carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Organic entails "containing carbon", as this NASA video says, but organic molecules can have biological or non-biological origins. The host of the session, assistant director of science for communications in NASA's Planetary Science Division Michelle Thaller, began by clearing up any rumors that the agency would announce that they had found alien life.
NASA's Curiosity rover has found new science "results" on Mars and the agency will disclose the findings at a press conference that starts at 11.30 pm India time on 7 June.
Big news from Mars today: NASA's Curiosity rover found ancient traces of organic matter embedded in Martian rocks and detected a "seasonal variation" in atmospheric methane on the Red Planet - an annual pulse of the gas, nearly as if something out there were breathing. And now they've added a catalogue of organic molecules to that list. We might find even more evidence in future missions, too.
"The question of whether life might have originated or existed on Mars is a lot more opportune now that we know that organic molecules were present on its surface at that time". However, the abundances of methane measured are greater than models predict should occur, meaning we still don't know exactly how they are produced. What the study has done, though, is to propel the search for life on Mars higher up the list of global space exploration priorities - giving space agencies ammunition to argue for a coordinated programme of missions to explore the Red Planet. Yet over the course of 55 Earth months (three Martian years), Webster and his team were able to use SAM to detect tiny, regular patterns in which methane-natural gas-increased from 0.24 to 0.65 parts per billion at the end of northern Mars' summer.
The term "organic" means something different to a chemist than it does to a produce manager at a grocery store.
In addition, NASA recorded methane spikes on the planet Mars, in a form that is repeating rather than random.
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The discovery proves that while Mars is inhospitable today, it previously allowed for "liquid water" to pool, meaning a water lake inside Mars' Gale Crater could have once supported life, NASA said in an announcement on Tuesday.
NASA's Mars Curiosity rover, slowly making its way up the side of a towering mountain of sedimentary rock at the center of its Gale Crater landing site, has found fresh evidence for the red planet's past - and possibly present - habitability, scientists reported Thursday. They could even have been transported from elsewhere in the solar system.
Here on Earth, 95 percent of all methane molecules are the product of living chemistry.
"The Martian surface is exposed to radiation from space".
However, so far, tests were unable to determine how the organic compounds were formed.
The new study reveals the discovery of complex and diverse organic compounds in more detail, however. "We can find organic matter preserved in mudstones that are more than three billion years old", Siebach said. "I think we're moving toward extant [the opposite of extinct] life detection again". "If you can do this on Mars, imagine what you can do with analytical facilities available to us on Earth", he says.