Is there life on Mars: scientists have discovered new organic compounds on the Red Planet
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The Perseverance rover recently discovered traces of new organic compounds in the rocks of the Lake crater.
Scientists already know that there is evidence of organic compounds on Mars. Such data was obtained using the Curiosity rover, the Mars Express orbiter and, of course, the Perseverance rover. But a new study shows the presence of other organic compounds on the Red Planet, but whether they can serve as a sign of habitability on Mars is still impossible to say for sure, writes ScienceAlert.
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The presence of organic compounds on Mars does not necessarily indicate the existence of life there in the past or now. They can be created as a result of completely different processes. But studying such compounds could provide more information about the water on Mars and whether there could ever have been life on the Red Planet.
The Perseverance rover has found minerals at two different locations in Lake Jezero that contain evidence of water processes related to the creation of organic compounds. Preliminary analysis indicates that these rocks may even contain traces of carbon-based compounds.
Scientists believe that in the distant past, the Lake crater was not a desert, but was filled with water, because traces of an ancient river delta are still preserved there. Interactions between water and rocks can lead to the formation of organic compounds. Scientists expected that the rocks found in the Lakero crater would be sedimentary, that is, they were deposited by water, but the data from the rover showed that most of the bottom of the crater is volcanic, not sedimentary.
Scientists from the California Institute of Technology recently analyzed data on igneous rocks sent by the Perseverance rover to Earth. The study showed that significant contact with water in the distant past has altered some of the rocks in Lake Jezero Crater. These were two different changes, which suggest the presence of two completely different water environments at different times in the distant past of Mars.
Scientists have found that interaction with water led to the formation of carbonates in igneous rocks approximately 3.8–2.7 billion years ago. And between 2.6 and 2.3 billion years ago, salt-rich water could cause the formation of sulfate-perchlorate (salt) mixtures in rocks.
Both carbonates and perchlorates require water to penetrate rocks, dissolving and depositing minerals in cavities that have been created by water erosion. Scientists consider it unlikely that the water came into contact with the rocks after the deposition of perchlorates, as they dissolve easily. In all rocks, scientists have found signs of organic compounds.
According to scientists, only the delivery of samples of these rocks to Earth and their subsequent analysis can accurately tell whether conditions were suitable for life in the early history of Mars. That is, whether these organic compounds are evidence of life. But such a delivery will not occur until the beginning of the next decade.
As Focus already wrote, in two years a spacecraft will go into space, which should help scientists find out how the moons of Mars – Phobos and Deimos – appeared.