Ancient Organic Material found on the Red Planet
New evidence found by NASA's Curiosity rover suggests that Mars could have supported life in the past. The organic molecules were found in sedimentary rockets near the surface which date to about 3 billion years old and there is variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere. These organic materials, while normally associated with life, can be made by non-biological processes and don't always mean there was once or currently life. Jen Eigenbrode of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbeld, Marlyand said "...organic matter in Martian materials holds chemical clues to planetary conditions and processes". These new findings are very exciting for the scientists analyzing the data found and opens another door of research to keep searching for life on Mars.
Also found were seasonal methane releases over the course
of 3 martian years (almost 6 Earth Years) and were detected bu the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite. The longevity of the Curiosity rover has allowed the instruments to notice these seasonal differences in the amount of Methane released over the years on Mars. Methane has been recorded on Mars in the past, but was studied in large, unpredictable plumes. Now we can see that more Methane is released in the Gale Crater in the warm summer months and much less is released in the cold wintery months each year. Water-rock chemistry may generate the Methane, but they can't rule out any possibilities of biological origins.
All information and graphics are provided by NASA