The Curiosity Mars Rover of NASA has reportedly enhanced the knowledge of researchers about the Red Planet. As reveled by NASA in an announcement on Thursday 7th June, the Curiosity rover has discovered the presence of “organic molecules” on the Martian surface.
At the late press conference held at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Goddard and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Pasadena in California, the scientists involved in the study said that the organic molecules discovered recently provide them with new conceptions about Mars. Jennifer Eigenbrode, a researcher at Goddard said that the rover has detected organic molecules present in the rocks of an early lake bed.
The data provided by the Curiosity rover brought to light that a watery lake previously filled the Gale Crater of Mars. The lake sheltered “complex organic molecules,” which dated back to around 3.5 billion years ago. At the present, traces of those organic molecules are yet found in the sulfur-rich rocks that evolved from the lake sediments. As said by the researchers, the presence of sulfur must have preserved the organic molecule traces in the Martian rocks till now, preventing them to fade away even on exposure to radiations and bleaching agents known as perchlorates.
Eigenbrode said that these organic molecule traces do not specify the presence of early life on the Martian surface. She said that the traces might have also come from some non-biological processes. However this discovery can provide scientists with essential facts for their research of life on the Red Planet. Eigenbrode explained that these latest observations can help scientists in finding hints of life on Mars by measuring a wide range of physical and chemical assets.
The director of NASA’s Solar System Exploration Division at Goddard, Paul Mahaffy said in a statement, “Organic compounds are fundamental to our search for life.”
This discovery also pointed out the places where the future rovers should search for the ancient Mars components. Samuel Kounaves, a chemist at the Tufts University, said, “This is an important finding.” The former lead researcher for NASA’s Phoenix Mars rover, further added, “There are locations, especially subsurface, where organic molecules are well-preserved.”
Launched on 6th November 2011, the Curiosity Mars rover has been said to be the most advanced mission rover ever developed by NASA.