New Delhi | Jagran Trending Desk: For quite some time now, Scientists are in search to find life beyond the planet, and to do so, recently have found evidence of carbon on Mars that on Earth is associated with biological processes. Using the Curiosity rover on the Red Planet, while analyzing powdered rock samples the carbon was found.
According to the scientists, the evidence found on the red planet is intriguing but not enough to point to ancient life on Mars. Scientists have not yet found any conclusive evidence such as evidence of ancient or current biology or sedimentary rock formations produced by ancient bacteria, or diversity of complex organic molecules to provide any life on the planet.
“We’re finding things on Mars that are tantalizingly interesting, but we would really need more evidence to say we’ve identified life,” said Paul Mahaffy, who served as the principal investigator of the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) chemistry lab aboard Curiosity until retiring from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, in December 2021. “So we’re looking at what else could have caused the carbon signature we’re seeing, if not life."
About the carbon:
On Mars, Curiosity researchers found that nearly half of their samples had surprisingly large amounts of carbon-12 compared to what scientists have measured in the Martian atmosphere and meteorites. These samples came from five distinct locations in Gale Crater, the researchers report, which may be related in that all the locations have well-preserved, ancient surfaces.
Hypotheses for Carbon Detection on Mars:
According to the National Academy of Sciences journal, there are several explanations for the unusual carbon signals on the planet. Their hypotheses are drawn partly from carbon signatures on Earth, but scientists warn the two planets are so different they can’t make definitive conclusions based on Earth examples.
“The hardest thing is letting go of Earth and letting go of that bias that we have and really trying to get into the fundamentals of the chemistry, physics, and environmental processes on Mars,” said Goddard astrobiologist Jennifer L. Eigenbrode, who participated in the carbon study. “We need to open our minds and think outside the box,” Eigenbrode said, “and that’s what this paper does.”
Biological and Nonbiological explanation for carbon detection on mars:
According to scientists, biological explanation involves ancient bacteria in the surface that would have produced a unique carbon signature as they released methane into the atmosphere where ultraviolet light would have converted that gas into larger, more complex molecules. These new molecules would have rained down to the surface and now could be preserved with their distinct carbon signature in Martian rocks.
On the other hand, Nonbiological explanations suggest, carbon signature could have resulted from the interaction of ultraviolet light with carbon dioxide gas in the Martian atmosphere, producing new carbon-containing molecules that would have settled to the surface. And the other speculates that the carbon could have been left behind from a rare event hundreds of millions of years ago when the solar system passed through a giant molecular cloud rich in the type of carbon detected.
“On Earth, processes that would produce the carbon signal we’re detecting on Mars are biological,” House said. “We have to understand whether the same explanation works for Mars, or if there are other explanations because Mars is very different.”
Furthermore, The Curiosity scientists will continue to measure carbon isotopes to see if they get a similar signature when the rover visits other sites suspected to have well-preserved ancient surfaces in order to find any shred of life on 'The Red Planet.'
Posted By: Ashita Singh