US space agency NASA’s Curiosity rover, which is searching for signs of life in the martian atmosphere, has made another significant findings on Mars.
Calling it a promising finding, the NASA scientists said that the rover has detected organic molecules, suggesting Mars have supported terrestrial life at certain point of time in the past.
Organic molecules, the basic building blocks of all known forms of terrestrial life, were discovered following a drilling procedure in the sample from the Sheepbed mudstone in the Curiosity rover’s landing site- Gale crater.
These life-building molecules were found by the team of NASA scientists responsible for the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite on Curiosity rove.
Organic molecules, which consist of a wide range of molecules created from oxygen, carbon and hydrogen atoms, can also be developed through chemical reactions having no life.
Caroline Freissinet, a NASA scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, said, “We think life began on Earth around 3.8 billion years ago and our result shows that places on Mars had the same conditions at that time – liquid water, a warm environment and organic matter.”
According to the scientists, the organic molecules that have been uncovered by Curiosity also included chlorine atoms like chlorobenzene and several dichloroalkanes, like dichloroethane.
The Mars Curiosity rover along with its instruments’ set, including SAM, was sent to Mars in the year 2011 for the discovery of life supporting substances on the ancient habitable Martian environment.
The scientists said even though they cannot conclude that whether there was life at Gale crater, the latest findings show that the ancient environment provided a supply of reduced organic molecules for their use as building blocks for life as well as an energy source for life.