Popular Countries

WE ARE NOW ONE STEP CLOSER TO FINDING LIFE ON MARS

By Ritika Nath . 8th June 2018 09:00pm
WE ARE NOW ONE STEP CLOSER TO FINDING LIFE ON MARS

Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying. - Arthur C. Clarke
Ever wondered about a place where someone or something might have lived? Scientists and researchers have been trying to get this answer from decades. And here might be the one of the most concrete explanation ever found. According to papers released by NASA, its rover-on-mission Curiosity has detected carbon on the planet Mars. Carbon is a very important part of the existence of organic molecules. In short, it is the source of life. [caption id="attachment_38735" align="alignnone" width="1280"]curiosity Source[/caption] A Tufts University chemist for NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander, Samuel Kounaves says, “This is an important finding". He adds, “There are locations, especially subsurface, where organic molecules are well-preserved.” Since its landing on Mars in 2012, this SUV- sized machine has been gathering a large amount of data from the planet. It has been observing the atmosphere variations on Mars and collecting samples. Recently, it drilled 2 inches deep into the Martian soil and found organic carbon molecules. This indicates that we might even be able to trace the history of life on Mars very soon. [caption id="attachment_38736" align="alignnone" width="590"]mars Source[/caption] When you work with something as crazy as a rover on Mars, with the most complex instrument ever sent to space, it seems like we’re doing what may have been perceived earlier as impossible,” says Jennifer Eigenbrode, a biogeochemist at NASA Goddard. “I work with an amazing group of people on Mars, and we have discovered so much.” Also, the hovercraft has also noticed a strange behaviour of the planet. it has methane in its atmosphere. Which is puzzling because it survives only a few hundred years at a time. But on Mars, it keeps on replenishing itself due to a strange phenomenon. Methane concentration varies with its seasonal cycle. It increases to 0.6 parts per billion in the summer and decreases to 0.2 parts per billion in the winter.
It’s a gas in the atmosphere of Mars that really shouldn’t be there
Chris Webster, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab scientist, believes that it is because the planet “breaths” the gas. In the summer, methane gets released from the underground into the atmosphere. While in winter, it is not able to escape from the underground due to low temperatures. It gets trapped in the ice crystals, called ‘clathrates’. As summer comes, the ice starts to melt and methane escaped in the atmosphere. The existence of methane does not necessarily imply a history of life on the 3.5-billion-year-old planet. According to Michael Mumma, the NASA Goddard scientist who discovered the methane plumes,
We really can’t tell if this methane we see today is a current product of serpentinization [a chemical reaction between iron-bearing rocks and liquid water] or microbial activity at some depth. Or is it something that is stored from an ancient time that’s being slowly released?
[caption id="attachment_38737" align="alignnone" width="625"]ExoMars Source[/caption] There are hundreds of questions that still need to be answered to quench our thirst for our mysterious extra-terrestrial friends. This is why European Space Agency have engineered ExoMars whose due landing on Mars is in 2020. It will be able to drill 6-feet deep into the Martian soil and even examine the samples on-board with its advanced instruments. To get the latest updates on such interesting and mind-boggling happenings, keep reading on Gabruu.com!