Felt life. The new discovery of Curiosity on Mars

Нащупали жизнь. Новое открытие Curiosity на Марсе

The HRSC camera of the Mars Express probe: one of glaciers, hidden under a layer of dust

Chemical analysis of lake sediments found by curiosity in the Gale crater, confirmed the presence in the rocks of the planet a large number of different organic compounds:

Curiosity Rover has made two important discoveries on the red planet’s surface – have found traces of ancient organic matter and proved that the levels of methane in the atmosphere vary greatly at the onset of winter and summer.

“With these new discoveries of Mars tells us to continue to search for signs of life. I am confident that our ongoing and future missions are preparing an even more exciting discoveries on the red planet,” – said the head of the Department scientific programs of NASA Thomas Zurbuchen.

The announcement of the results of research scientists at NASA called a press conference. Корреспондент.net tells about the most interesting.

 

Traces of life on Mars

In recent years, geologists, astrobiologists and other professionals actively debating on whether stocks of organic matter or microbes in the surface soil layers of Mars, where there is liquid water, where almost no cosmic rays penetrate and where the temperature is mild.

The Rover arrived at the Red planet on 6 August 2012 to find out whether there was on Mars suitable for life conditions, to collect detailed information about the climate and Geology of the planet and prepare for human landing.

The Explorer’s interior. The new mission of NASA to Mars

Gale crater was chosen for landing by chance – in the distant past he was a Martian sea, and on its bottom accumulated minerals formed during the life of this reservoir. Scientists believe that the study of the soil of the crater will answer the question about the existence of life on Mars.

Previously the Rover in the Gale crater found silicate deposits of sand, which became evidence of the existence of water on Mars 2.3 billion years ago.

In addition, the analysis of the chemical composition of the minerals revealed the presence on the planet of organic substances. In sediments showed traces of chlorobenzene and several chlorinated alkanes.

However, despite the fact that the presence of organic substances was confirmed by several methods, no information about the age of these compounds and their possible sources has not been received.

Нащупали жизнь. Новое открытие Curiosity на Марсе

The ChemCam instrument found high levels of manganese oxide in the rocks of the Kimberley region of Gale crater. These data support the idea that free oxygen was on the surface of Mars in large quantities in the period when the planet was warmer and its surface abounded in the lakes / NASA

The conference declared that the chemical analysis of lake sediments found by curiosity in the Gale crater, confirmed the presence in the rocks of the planet a large number of different organic compounds: teofanov, aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons.

N+1 with reference to article about the study, published in the journal Science, says that the age of the studied minerals, and, hence, the detected organic substances is about 3.5 billion years.

These rocks are phyllosilicates, sulfates, and iron oxide. But researchers note that all of the detected organic groups can be parts of some more complex molecules.

The question of the exact origin of these substances still remains open: can not be excluded either biological or geological sources, or the possible uptake of organic compounds on Mars with a meteorite. Now, however you can certainly assert that 3.5 billion years ago, these substances on the planet already.

 

The sources of methane on Mars

Methane is among the biomarkers that indicate the possible presence of life on the planet.

On Earth a significant portion of this gas is produced by microorganisms (anaerobic methanogens), which are widely distributed in wetlands and also in the intestines of ruminant mammals and humans, where they are responsible for flatulence.

On the other hand, there are non-biological sources of methane, such as emissions from volcanoes or the reaction of water with iron-containing rocks, especially in warm places.

Curiosity 2,000 days on Mars. Main photos

Six years on the red planet, Curiosity has seen two Martian winter, fall, spring, and summer. Scientists during this time have precisely measured the seasonal fluctuations of methane in the atmosphere.

Нащупали жизнь. Новое открытие Curiosity на МарсеHigh concentrations of methane are shown in yellow and red / NASA

Now planetary scientists are fully confident that the concentration of methane in the Martian atmosphere increases during summer and decreases during the winter, reaching concentrations of 2.5 and 6.5 parts in ten billion.

A three-fold increase in the proportion of methane in the summer air of Mars, as emphasized by geologists, it is impossible to explain atmospheric processes, or the fact that solar ultraviolet better decompose organic fragments of asteroids falling on the Red planet.

All of this suggests that the methane is formed in the lower layers of the soil of Mars or in the activities of the microbes, or the decomposition of clathrates, compounds of methane and water, or thanks to some geothermal processes.

40 years on Mars. The most amazing photo

As shown by spikes in the “local” concentration of methane exceeding the typical values in the tens of time, this gas accumulates inside a kind of Micropower and reservoirs in the soil and periodically breaks out.

 

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