NASA’s major Mars findings: organic molecules and seasonal changes

The discovery leaves open the possibility that microorganisms once populated the red planet - and still might.


"Finding ancient organic molecules in the top five centimeters of rock that was deposited when Mars may have been habitable, bodes well for us to learn the story of organic molecules on Mars with future missions that will drill deeper".

In a second, potentially more significant finding announced Thursday, scientists reported detection of a seasonal variation in methane levels in the martian atmosphere.

They don't exactly roll off the tongue, but researchers believe that these are fragments of larger molecules that were present on Mars billions of years ago. They're considered necessary for life to form, but there are plenty of places with lots of organic compounds but no life.

A self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. So mission scientists sent Curiosity on a four-mile journey to the base of Mount Sharp in hopes of finding more conclusive evidence buried in old lake sediments.

Still, "we're in a really good position to move forward looking for signs of life", NASA biogeochemist Jennifer Eigenbrode said in a study published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science.

Kirsten Siebach, a Rice University geologist who also was not involved in the studies, is equally excited.

"The big takeaway is that we can find evidence".

Questions remain, however, as to how the organic material was formed. "While we don't know the source of the material, the wonderful consistency of the results makes me think we have a slam-dunk signal for organics on Mars", Eigenbrode said. But scientists revealed tantalizing hints about present-day Mars today, too.

"We don't know, but these results tell us we are on the right track"'.

Curiosity is a car-side space exploratory vehicle which has been traversing the Red Planet since 2012 to determine if life there ever existed. The methane signal has been observed for almost three Martian years (nearly six Earth years), peaking each summer. Seasonal peaks were detected in late summer in the northern hemisphere and late winter in the southern hemisphere.

"We've considered three possible sources for the organics: geology, meteorites and biology", she said. "It's tripling ... that's a huge, huge difference".

Key details about the organics may have been obscured in Curiosity's sample because the rover can only drill two inches into rock. The diameter is slightly smaller than a US dime.

"It's coming from sub-surface reservoirs" and then seeping up to the surface, Webster says.

On Mars, organic molecules could have been produced by some form of either present or past lifeforms. The twin Vikings came up pretty much empty. They could even have been transported from elsewhere in the solar system.

The team also found several spikes where methane abundance suddenly jumped to be higher than average during the year.

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.

"You're seeing a factor of three change in the methane in the atmosphere of Mars". That's a harder question to address scientifically, but I think that we need to give the search for life on Mars due diligence.

Related News:

  • Rajinikanth's Kaala a no show in Karnataka as protesters stop screening

    Rajinikanth's Kaala a no show in Karnataka as protesters stop screening

    With the good reviews coming the film's way, the collection of Kaala is expected to improve in the next few days. If the film collects Rs. 280 Cr more then it will secure a position on the list of 2018's commercial hit movies.
    'Friends' co-creator reveals if Ross and Rachel are still together

    'Friends' co-creator reveals if Ross and Rachel are still together

    When Bloom asked if Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Monica (Courteney Cox) were "still good", Crane said, "Absolutely". Ross and Rachel are still together , he told fellow panelist Rachel Bloom . "Never happening.
    Three men shot at boxing club in Ireland

    Three men shot at boxing club in Ireland

    Taylor, a boxing coach, is the father and former trainer of Olympic and world champion boxer Katie Taylor. There is still a heavy police presence at the club while forensic officers carry out their investigation.
  • Cardi B MAKES OUT With Rita Ora In New Music Video 'Girls'!

    Cardi B MAKES OUT With Rita Ora In New Music Video 'Girls'!

    Comments beneath the video include: "YESSS THE KISS", and: "My bi self is shook". Rita Ora has released steamy visuals to the controversial track.


    Kevin Masterson, a young man from Earth who inherited the power and the mantle from father, original Thunderstrike Eric Masterson. And for the first time in years, Skurge the Executioner is fully back among the living and out of Hel.
    USA  asks OPEC producers to pump more oil, no specific figure

    USA asks OPEC producers to pump more oil, no specific figure

    In Venezuela, chronic delays and production declines could soon breach state-run PDVSA's supply contracts. Brent crude futures LCOc1 were up 85 cents at $76.21 a barrel by 1222 GMT, while U.S.
  • Syria not ‘immune’, Israel will destroy Assad’s forces if attacked, says Netanyahu

    Syria not ‘immune’, Israel will destroy Assad’s forces if attacked, says Netanyahu

    He dismissed talks of France asking Lebanon to mediate in organising talks between regional countries on Syria. He said that Hezbollah and Iran would not withdraw from Syria until its "territorial integrity" is regained.
    U.S. Envoy To Germany Richard Grenell Wants To 'Empower' Europe's Conservatives

    U.S. Envoy To Germany Richard Grenell Wants To 'Empower' Europe's Conservatives

    Bush administration and a longtime Fox News Channel commentator, has declined multiple requests for interviews. When asked about Grenell at a news conference Monday with Netanyahu, Merkel declined to comment.

    Samantha Bee returns with an angry apology

    The series is executive-produced by Samantha Bee , Jason Jones, Tony Hernandez, Miles Kahn, Alison Camillo, and Pat King. People who hone their voices in basement bars while yelling at drunk hecklers are definitely not paragons of cilvility.
  • Thiem Defeats Nishikori to Reach QFs

    Thiem Defeats Nishikori to Reach QFs

    Two Americans are in the women's quarterfinals: No. 10 Sloane Stephens and No. 13 Madison Keys, who played each other in the U.S. Both players held their serves in the opening six games, before Thiem finished the first break in the seventh to go ahead 4-3.
    Russian man finds skull as wife reveals it was her first husband

    Russian man finds skull as wife reveals it was her first husband

    After dropping that initial bombshell, she added: "Bury the remains again, forget about it, and we won't tell the police". She will face a charge of wilful killing, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.
    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte slammed for kissing Filipina before huge audience

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte slammed for kissing Filipina before huge audience

    Father of two Raymond Pascual said people were making too much of a deal of it, and he thought it was just a "simple kiss ". The 73-year-old grandfather had offered a free book in exchange for a kiss during a trip to South Korea . "We enjoyed it.

Most liked

Labour backs membership of new European Union single market
Those backing the Brexit decision have outnumbered those who think it was wrong in the regular survey on only one occasion since July 2017.

Government publish customs "backstop" plan after last minute talks
The document also says the United Kingdom would be able to implement new trade deals - something which Brussels may push back against.

Muguruza thrashes Sharapova to reach French Open semi-finals
It will be her first appearance at the All England Club in three years. "So it was very nice to play like that". "My head won it". It will be Halep's second consecutive Grand Slam final after she lost the title match at the Australian Open in January.

Woods to stay on yacht during US Open
The golf star will stay on his $20 million yacht during the tournament, according to Mara Siegler of The New York Post's " Page Six ".

Trump Commutes Alice Marie Johnson’s Life Sentence for Nonviolent Drug Offense
Johnson's warden, case manager and vocational training instructor each wrote letters in support of her clemency. Johnson , who has spent two decades behind bars, will soon be released from a federal prison in Alabama.

Queer Eye Season 2 Trailer
Yass, an Australian town located a few hundred kilometres south west of Sydney , isn't usually a stop for celebrities. Keep your eyes peeled over the next few days.

Oldest 'footprints' found in China
The fossils date to the Ediacaran Period , which was between 635 to 541 million years ago. The oldest known "footprints" left by an animal have been uncovered in southern China .

Putin's China visit to enhance bilateral ties: FM spokesperson
He also noted that the need to get rid of the anti-Russian sanctions is already being publicly discussed in Europe. There's no way to describe this other than as a joke".

Hemsworth & Bridges in First Trailer for 'Bad Times at the El Royale'
Jeff Bridges , Chris Hemsworth , Jon Hamm , Dakota Johnson and Cynthia Erivo lead an all-star cast in BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE . The first trailer for writer/director Drew Goddard's trippy thriller Bad Times at the El Royale is a thing to behold.

Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’ Adds Al Pacino
Luckily, those aren't all the details we have, as they've also revealed who will be playing what in this ode to '60s cinema. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood heads into production this summer, on its way to an arrival in theaters next August.

Warriors inch closer to title
They play free, without much angst when things don't go well, adding to what James called "the level of stress" for opponents. But it wasn't enough in a game where the Cavaliers just have to try to outscore the Warriors because they can't get stops.

Arizona officers on leave after beating video
A representative for the Mesa Police Department did not immediately respond to HuffPost's request for comment. In the video , Johnson was heard letting officers know he has a knife.

Korean woman survives Qld bush ordeal
She had been missing for five days before friends reported her missing on Wednesday and a search was launched, Kersley said. Ms Han was reportedly found after screams were heard in the area near the ravine.

Video shows police chase stolen armored personnel vehicle through Richmond
The statement says that before he left, Yabut "intentionally made public" a ZenCash vulnerability that he had coded in. More video sent to 8News shows the armored vehicle barreling down Broad Street in Richmond as police give chase.

Apple officially rebrands iTunes Connect to App Store Connect
Apple is adding a "For You" tab to the Photos app that will show memories, as well as produce sharing suggestions. For iOS users, the apps will look very familiar - and they should - the apps are essentially iOS apps.