NASA finds traces of carbon on Mars, whose origin may be biological

Deepak Gupta
Deepak Gupta January 20, 2022
Updated 2022/01/20 at 4:36 AM

the rover Curiosity NASA has done a good job for Gale Crater on Mars. Scientists have announced that several of the samples collected by the region of the red planet are rich in a type of carbon associated with biological processes here on Earth.

The carbon identified in the Curiosity samples was assigned the number 12, the same atom number that terrestrial living beings use to metabolize food or for photosynthesis. This element, in general, is very important, because it is thanks to it that more complex molecules can be grouped into life forms.

One explanation for the existence of this element on the red planet is that ancient bacteria on the surface of Mars could have produced a signature from the release of methane into the atmosphere. Two other non-biological possibilities are also mentioned:

1) This carbon sample could be the result of the interaction of ultraviolet light with carbon dioxide. Similar to biological origin, then, new carbon-containing molecules would have been deposited on Mars.

2) Carbon could have been left behind on Mars thanks to a passage of the solar system through a carbon-rich molecular cloud millions of years ago.

Despite all these hypotheses, the presence of carbon 12 is still not enough for scientists to believe that life existed on Mars. Of course, this finding is completely worthy of investigation, but we still need more concrete evidence of a certain biological signature. Furthermore, the hypotheses created are based on what we know about carbon on Earth, but two planets can have different processes and comparisons cannot be considered definitive without a lot of research.

Curiosity scientists will continue to measure carbon isotopes to see if they get a similar signature when extracting other well-preserved ancient surfaces. Another form of investigation would be to analyze the carbon content of a plume of methane released from the surface, but we currently cannot predict when the rover will encounter such a thing. But in any case, defining the carbon cycle on Mars is absolutely fundamental to trying to understand how life might fit into this cycle.


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Via: HDblog Source: NASA

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