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NASA finds traces of organic salts on Mars, which may indicate ancient life - Epoca Nigossius

NASA finds traces of organic salts on Mars, which may indicate ancient life – Epoca Nigossius

“In this organic record, there might be the ultimate prize: evidence of life on the Red Planet,” said James Lewis, a geochemist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

This time, it’s not the robots pair of ingenuity and tenacity that is sending exciting news to Earth. Latest updates for Red planet It came from the veteran Curiosity of, Which has been exploring Mars soil for nearly a decade. A series of analyzes sent by the rover point to the possible presence of organic salts on Mars.

The robot’s technical limitation prevents full confirmation of news, but the revelation is promising. If proven, it could reinforce both the hypothesis of microbial life on the planet in ancient times and the hypothesis of habitability for us in the future. This is because here on Earth some living things use these elements, like oxalate and acetate, as a form of energy.

“If we decide that there are concentrated organic salts anywhere on Mars, we will want to examine these areas in depth and, ideally, dig deeper beneath the surface, where the organic matter can be better preserved,” said James Lewis, a Goddard Space geochemist. “. Aviation Center NASA.

Curiosity collects soil and rock samples in search of organic compounds. These materials are analyzed with a series of tools, including the Mars Sample Analysis (SAM), and the results are sent to scientists at the space agency.

However, traces found in Martian soil have been damaged by billions of years of radiation, complicating the research. To detect organic compounds, Curiosity heats the soil and analyzes the emissions. It is precisely at this point that the possibility arises.

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When organic salts are heated, they only produce simple gases, which can also be produced by other ingredients that are not special to us. Lewis said, “When heating Mars samples, there are many interactions that can occur between metals and organic materials that make it difficult to draw conclusions from our experiments, so the task we do is try to separate these interactions.”

Soon, new missions will be able to offer more certainty of discovery. The ExoMars spacecraft, to be sent by the European Space Agency, is capable of drilling up to two meters on the surface and carrying Goddard, an instrument capable of analyzing collected samples more precisely.

“We’re trying to uncover billions of years of organic chemistry,” Lewis said. “In that organic record there may be the final prize: evidence of life on the Red Planet.”

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