Mars Rover Curiosity Finds More Clues to the Potential for Life

But Curiosity has discovered "tough" organic molecules from an ancient lake bed inside Gale Crater, showing lakes may have existed for "maybe hundreds or thousands of years".

While not direct evidence of life, the compounds drilled from Mars' Gale Crater are the most diverse array ever taken from the surface of the planet since the robotic vehicle landed in 2012, experts say.

It was to a great fanfare of publicity that researchers announced they had found evidence for past life on Mars in 1996. Today, NASA will be hosting a live discussion to reveal the findings uncovered from its Mars Curiosity rover. 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.

"The results convincingly show the long-awaited detection of organic compounds on Mars". "We also don't know if that methane was created from rock chemistry or it was created by microbes".

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. Organic material can be produced without life. The Martian surface is bombarded with radiation that can degrade organic compounds, explains Eigenbrode. That's a harder question to address scientifically, but I think that we need to give the search for life on Mars due diligence.

"With these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and keep searching for evidence of life", Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA science director at agency headquarters, said in a statement.

Scientists agree more powerful spacecraft - and, ideally, rocks returned to Earth from Mars - are needed to prove whether tiny organisms like bacteria ever existed on the red planet. The 2020 rover will include an advanced spectrometer to scan for organic molecules.

Doug Jones on Alice Marie Johnson case: Trump sending a 'mixed message'
Notably, the decision came after a meeting with Kim Kardashian , who has always been an advocate for the incarcerated 63-year-old. They note her warden, case manager, and vocational training instructor have all written letters in support of her clemency.

Thiem downs Zverev, advances to French Open semis
Stephens will face No. 14 Daria Kasatkina of Russian Federation , and Keys faces 98th-ranked Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan. The pair met just a few weeks ago in the Madrid Open final with Zverev winning that encounter in straight sets.

Scott seals US Open berth
Among those who failed to qualify were Vijay Singh and 19-year-old Joaquin Niemann, who contended last week at the Memorial. Wilkinson, who plays the Web.Com Tour, was also successful in Sectional Qualifying in 2016. "I wasn't expecting the U.S.

Curiosity has detected organics embedded in the sediments of the "Pahrump Hills" area of Gale Crater.

The new results represent the longest systematic record of atmospheric methane, with measurements taken regularly over five years.

Intriguingly, the organics Dr. Eigenbrode and her colleagues detected looked like they were pieces that came from more complex material.

Dr Webster said the data pointed to methane trapped in water-based crystals deep under the planet's surface, which slowly seep to the surface when temperatures rise.

A French-built instrument revealed "several organic molecules and volatiles reminiscent of organic-rich sedimentary rock found on Earth, including: thiophene, 2- and 3-methylthiophenes, methanethiol, and dimethylsulfide", said the Science report.

There's enough ambient carbon and hydrogen in the solar system that they react to form basic organic compounds pretty frequently, even without biology involved, ten Kate said. This is also when life was evolving on our own planet. She said the discoveries break down some of the strongest arguments put forward by life-on-Mars skeptics, herself included.

NASA also has another rover in the works with its Mars 2020 mission, which plans to drill cores and set them aside for a possible future pickup and return to Earth.

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