By David Pescovitz | 16 September 2022
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.
In #SamplingMars, I’m building a real science treasure chest, and my latest samples may be the most valuable yet. Some have organic molecules – but from ancient biology, or another process? Sending them back to Earth could help us figure it out.
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) September 15, 2022
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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