Evidence of possible life on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence that adds weight to the possibility there has been life on Mars (in the distant past).

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet’s surface and subsurface.

This low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the site from which it reached down to drill in

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at the site from which it reached down
to drill into a rock target called “Buckskin” on lower Mount Sharp.

The new findings – “tough” organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere – appear in the June 8 edition of the journal Science.

Organic molecules contain carbon and hydrogen, and also may include oxygen, nitrogen and other elements. While commonly associated with life, organic molecules also can be created by non-biological processes and are not necessarily indicators of life.

“With these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and keep searching for evidence of life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in Washington. “I’m confident that our ongoing and planned missions will unlock even more breathtaking discoveries on the Red Planet.”

“Curiosity has not determined the source of the organic molecules,” said Jen Eigenbrode of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who is lead author of one of the two new Science papers. “Whether it holds a record of ancient life, was food for life, or has existed in the absence of life, organic matter in Martian materials holds chemical clues to planetary conditions and processes.”

Although the surface of Mars is inhospitable today, there is clear evidence that in the distant past, the Martian climate allowed liquid water – an essential ingredient for life as we know it – to pool at the surface. Data from Curiosity reveal that billions of years ago, a water lake inside Gale Crater held all the ingredients necessary for life, including chemical building blocks and energy sources.

Mars isn’t an easy place to escape to if things turn pear shaped on Earth, but if life is proven to have survived there in the past it would add weight to the lack of uniqueness of life on Earth.

28 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  June 8, 2018

    Hats off to all those involved in the Mars Orbiters and Rovers. The views we get of this remarkable rust-dust-covered planet, and the information they keep sending back, just blow me away.

    I really look forward to the first successful manned (personned?) mission to the red rock. Will be a private or government venture?

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  June 8, 2018

      Well said. It’s a fantastic achievement along with the rest of space exploration… when I think back to when I was a kid and the moon landing… just blows me away what we get to see these days…

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  June 8, 2018

        We had some ancient films about space rockets and exploration that were shown at Sunday School (I think) It wasn’t for some time afterwards that I realised that this was not new and wasn’t just happening at that time.

        I think that Earth’s problems should be solved before space experiments are done..

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  June 8, 2018

          I wonder if most peploe have a mental picture of Martians and other space aliens as ‘little green men’ ?

          • Corky

             /  June 8, 2018

            Martians average 5’8 and have ebony skin and eyes. They ain’t green. The little finger is longer than the other fingers and acts like a second thumb. Females have a small protuberance on each temple.

            • Gezza

               /  June 8, 2018

              You can’t draw conclusions that all martians look the same just going by the ones you’ve met. It might only be a little over half the size of Earth but it’s still a pretty big planet.

        • Gezza

           /  June 8, 2018

          If they’d waited until earth’s problems had been solved before doing space experiments we’d never have even made it into space. Humans will always want to see how far they can possibly go. Horizons and the challenges of seeing what’s beyond them have always driven the curious and the restless among us.

          There have been countless side-benefits for mankind from pursuing space exploration.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  June 8, 2018

            What are these ?

            Apart from Mars bars and moonstones ?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  June 8, 2018

              i have a moonstone necklace and they are lovely stones, Mine are not top grade, but I don’t care about these bagatelles, they are still moonstones.

              The Martian description sounded like W——- P——.

            • Gezza

               /  June 8, 2018

              Every year since the mid-1970s, NASA has published a list of space technologies that have been integrated into everyday items. The tangible benefits span from life-saving medical devices to protective eyewear. To date, NASA has documented nearly 1,800 “spinoff” technologies. Here’s a short list.

              Artificial limbs
              Baby formula
              Cell-phone cameras
              Computer mouse
              Cordless tools
              Ear thermometer
              Firefighter gear
              Freeze-dried food
              Golf clubs
              Long-distance communication
              Invisible braces
              MRI and CAT scans
              Memory foam
              Safer highways
              Solar panels
              Shoe insoles
              Ski boots
              Adjustable smoke detector
              Water filters
              UV-blocking sunglasses

              Also -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benefits_of_space_exploration#Direct_benefits

            • Gezza

               /  June 8, 2018

              Whoops – mucked up link somehow. Try again

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benefits_of_space_exploration

            • Corky

               /  June 8, 2018

              Ufologists also release lists of things apparently leaked to businesses from crashed saucers:

              1- Printed circuit boards.
              2- Velcro.
              3-Transistor.
              4- Night Vision and associated optics.
              5- Memory metal.

              Scientists don’t buy it.

              https://www.livescience.com/61253-alien-alloys.html

              Other reports ( Majestic 12) speak of scientists going into shock and unable to accept the reality of a technology way ahead of their comprehensions.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Majestic_12#Alleged_members

              There’s an interesting conclusion from a sceptic.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  June 8, 2018

              Velcro was invented in 1940.

              The transistor was invented in the 1920s.

              And so on.

              There is evidence of when & where these things were invented – and by whom they were invented. .

            • Corky

               /  June 8, 2018

              That’s where you are wrong. The transistor has a few people claiming to have invented them…one is a New Zealander, the late Dr Robert G. Adams of the Adams Motor fame.

              http://www.beatriceco.com/bti/porticus/bell/belllabs_transistor1.html

              I could go on, but leave you with this thought. Have you noticed how our technology quantum leaped from the Nazi era on? The Vril Society claimed to be in contact with a Master Race.

              i

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  June 9, 2018

              Please don’t go on.

              One could hardly help ‘noticing’ that technology has advanced since the end of WWII. Your reasoning is too absurd to be worth wasting time on refuting.

            • Gezza

               /  June 8, 2018

              That “i” is a tad egotistical, I have to say.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  June 9, 2018

            At least it’s lower case.

  2. NOEL

     /  June 8, 2018

    So all those life building blocks had a conference and decided not to go ahead. Don’t blame them.

    • Gezza

       /  June 8, 2018

      I suspect the main issues were over access to water.

      • Zedd

         /  June 8, 2018

        If you look at some of the pictures.. it does appear that there was once liquid water on Mars, which most scientists agree is needed for ‘life as we know it Jim’ BUT something changed.
        If there is methane.. perhaps there are ‘Mars cows’ burping somewhere ? 😀

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  June 8, 2018

          Mar-cows rather than moo-cows ? 😀

          Or astronauts eating baked beans ?

          • Zedd

             /  June 8, 2018

            more likely micro-organisms in soil.. ‘burping’

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  June 8, 2018

              Microburps and microfarts !

              Have you seen the fake baked beans ad with the astronauts ? Very funny.

            • Gezza

               /  June 8, 2018

              I’m not so sure that’s fake. You’ll notice they haven’t been back to the moon since 14 December 1972 … 😕

  3. Griff

     /  June 8, 2018

    Methane could power colony’s.
    If we could get enough methane or CO2 into the atmosphere we could terraform mars into something almost habitable.

    • Gezza

       /  June 8, 2018

      We’d have to keep pumping it out – I think the lack of a magnetic field to deflect the solar wind is the main suspect for the place’s currently thin atmosphere.?

      • Griff

         /  June 8, 2018

        We would need to pump enough gas into the atmosphere to over take that what is lost due to such effects. Mars has lost its atmosphere over eons. If we could alter mars atmosphere hence climate for a even a short period in planetary time it would assist colonization efforts.
        Speculation as we have no real idea about how much is there as yet.

        Getting to mars?
        Trust in Musk. .
        http://www.spacex.com/

        • Gezza

           /  June 8, 2018

          Yeah I’m getting the feeling a privately funded mission might precede a government one. Either that or it’ll be a joint Private/NASA venture. NASA uses mostly private contractors anyway, I think, for their design and build.

          We don’t even know yet whether Mars is geologically stable – but we’re getting there. Can’t wait. Hope a manned landing happens before I kick off.