Mars rover found a “treasure” of organic matter, possible signature of life

By David Pescovitz | 16 September 2022
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The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. (Credits: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS)

NASA has announced that its Perseverance rover on Mars collected samples that included organic matter, a possible signature that life existed on the Red Planet. This isn’t the first time organic matter has been found on Mars but the latest samples were detected in an ancient river delta where, NASA explains, “in the distant past, sediment and salts were deposited into a lake under conditions in which life could potentially have existed.”

“While the detection of this class of organics alone does not mean that life was definitively there, this set of observations does start to look like some things that we’ve seen here on Earth,” astrobiologist Sunanda Sharma of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory told CNN. To put it simply, if this is a treasure hunt for potential signs of life on another planet, organic matter is a clue. And we’re getting stronger and stronger clues as we’re moving through our delta campaign.”

The hope is that the rocks will make their way to Earth for study during the proposed Mars Sample Return missions, although that’s still a decade away if it does happen.

NASA’s Perseverance rover finds organic matter in Mars rock samples | USA TODAY

NASA Explains Organic Matter Discovery on Mars!

NASA reveals Perseverance rover’s discoveries on Mars | full video

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