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Once upon a time, Mars could be a real paradise for organic life: on its surface splashed seas, dense the atmosphere protected the planet from falling asteroids, and the warm climate contributed to the development of life. This did not last long: in the result of a disaster we have not yet explored, the atmosphere of the planet suddenly thinned, the magnetic field has gone out, and our seas and oceans the space neighbor either evaporated, or went deep beneath him surface. All that remains from the day of the great catastrophe planetary scale – rusty sand, stones and various rocky wreckage – not at all like what the fourth planet in ancient times. Hoping to find the remains of bacteria, possibly inhabiting Mars before the mysterious deadly event, scientists over and over again sent a large the number of various missions, however, attempts to find them remained vain for a long time. Or is it still not?
Organic matter discovered on Mars
Gale Crater on Mars is an unusual place. Its diameter is as much as 154 kilometers, and the walls of this object are covered with sedimentary rocks that once could fill the crater completely. Though the nature of these deposits is not yet fully understood, there is a large a fraction of the probability that once upon a time the crater was quite a large lake, in whose waters life could be hiding. New analysis organic molecules found in dried Martian mud Gale Crater, once again showed that the hypothesis described above may be true. So found in this unusual place particles may be of biological origin, says the portal sciencealert.com.
Although our understanding of Martian molecules is limited and incomplete, the information we already have may be compatible with life that existed on the Red Planet billions of years ago. When the molecules were extracted by Curiosity rover from clay area called the Murray Formation, their preliminary analysis showed the presence in them of a group of aromatic compounds called thiophenes. On Earth, these compounds are usually found in raw oil consisting of superheated dead organisms such as zooplankton and algae, as well as coal from dead plants. It is believed that such a formation appears abiotic way – that is, through a physical process, for example when sulfur reacts with organic hydrocarbons at temperatures above 120 degrees Celsius. Although this reaction can occur without the participation of living organisms, and hydrocarbons, and sulfur can be of biological origin. In order to identify the origin of the discovered substance, scientists from Washington State University decided to use pyrolysis method for analysis of detected thiophenes.
There are several ways that thiophenes could appear on Mars without the need for the presence of life. So they could occur during volcanic activity or some other geological processes capable of producing heat. Moreover, particles were discovered by us earlier in space wanderers – meteorites. However, there’s something very special about Martian thiophenes interesting: all the geological processes described above require so that sulfur is nucleophilic, i.e. capable of donating electrons to your reaction partner. However, most of the sulfur in Mars exists in the form of non-nucleophilic sulfates, which are more often all appear during biological intervention.
So it’s quite possible that once a very long time, long before the appearance on earth of humanity and even dinosaurs, Mars could boast the existence of bacterial colonies producing thiophenes. Then, when Mars dried up, the thiophenes were petrified, but were found by us after several billion years.
In order to check the data received by the rover Curiosity, Roscosmos and the European Space Agency plan to send to the Red Planet a new rover “Rosalind Franklin “, whose launch is scheduled for July 2020. It is known that the device will have a highly sensitive device on board, capable of detecting and analyzing any thiophenes. If the data rover will confirm information previously received by us, the scientific world a real revolution can be expected to search for the past or present life on other planets of the solar system.