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Space & Astronomy

Mars organic compounds 'consistent with life'

By T.K. Randall
March 5, 2020 · Comment icon 8 comments

Has Curiosity discovered evidence of past life on Mars ? Image Credit: NASA
Scientists believe that organic compounds known as thiophenes could be an indicator of life on Mars.
Discovered on the Red Planet by NASA's Curiosity rover, these compounds can be found on Earth in various fossil fuels such as coal and oil as well as in certain types of fungi such as white truffles.

Now in a new study, astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch from Washington State University and Jacob Heinz from the Technische Universitat in Berlin have determined that a biological process - most likely involving bacteria - could quite easily be responsible for the presence of thiophenes on Mars.

"We identified several biological pathways for thiophenes that seem more likely than chemical ones, but we still need proof," said Schulze-Makuch.

"If you find thiophenes on Earth, then you would think they are biological, but on Mars, of course, the bar to prove that has to be quite a bit higher."
It is important to note however that if biologial processes were responsible for the compound, they would have likely existed on Mars in its distant past, not in the present day.

Even so, such a discovery would still be extremely significant.

As things stand however, it may take new data from NASA's upcoming Mars 2020 rover to fully unravel the mystery and determine once and for all how these compounds came to be there.

Source: | Comments (8)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
I wonder why we don't try to look for fossil fuels on Mars...or if we have, I didn't hear about it. That'd be one way to prove life once existed there. Finding coal or oil. We also have the tech. Look at all the money invested into finding that **** here on earth.
Comment icon #2 Posted by docyabut2 4 years ago
Yes smaller organisms  are found on Mars, that was ever found on Earth  only in a rock found  from Mars .The Earth could have had a seed from Mars
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 4 years ago
If you are talking about the so called "fossils" in the Alan Hills 84001 meteorite then further studies showed that the structures within the meteorite were almost certainly of geological not biological origin. No evidence of Martian organisms has yet been found.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 4 years ago
Have you seen the size of the equipment used to search for fossil fuels on Earth? Have you seen the amount of money oil companies spend looking for oil and gas on Earth? How do you expect to do that on Mars? How do you expect anyone to risk bankruptcy looking for a fossil fuels when currently we don't know whether life ever existed on Mars. You are putting the cart before the horse.
Comment icon #5 Posted by docyabut2 4 years ago   This electron microscope image is a close-up of the center part of photo number S96-12301. While the exact nature of these tube-like structures is not known, one interpretation is that they may be microscopic fossils of primitive, bacteria-like organisms that may have lived on Mars more than 3.6 billion years ago. A two-year investigation by a NASA research team found organic molecules, mineral features characteristic of biological activity and possible microscopic fossils such as these inside of an ancient Martian rock that fell to... [More]
Comment icon #6 Posted by Piney 4 years ago
Mars probably has various hydrocarbons. They don't need life to form. They probably start exploration for use when the planet is finally settled
Comment icon #7 Posted by llegendary 4 years ago
Duh. Everybody knows that it has to be more complex than a 34 week old fetus to be considered life.
Comment icon #8 Posted by tmcom 4 years ago
Lol, there was life there but not now, we can just ignore the methane, and the disappearing blue atmosphere?  

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