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Space & Astronomy

'Huge diversity' of organic compounds found in Martian meteorite

By T.K. Randall
January 20, 2023 · Comment icon 6 comments

A fragment of the Tissint meteorite. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Jon Taylor
A new study has revealed the presence of a wealth of organic compounds in a rock believed to have come from Mars.
Known as the Tissint meteorite, this intriguing space rock fell to Earth over Morocco back in July 2011 - an event that was even witnessed at the time by several people in the Oued Draa valley area.

Scientists now believe that the rock was ejected from the surface of Mars by a violent impact that occurred between 700,000 and 1.1 million years ago.

While fragments of the meteorite have been studied many times over the years, the most recent effort has revealed the presence of at least five different types of organic compounds - molecules which are abundant in life on Earth and could suggest the possibility of life on Mars as well.
"Mars and Earth share many aspects of their evolution," said study author Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin.

"And while life arose and thrived on our home planet, the question of whether it ever existed on Mars is a very hot research topic that requires deeper knowledge of our neighboring planet's water, organic molecules, and reactive surfaces."

It is hoped that the findings, coupled with further research into this and other samples from Mars, will eventually enable scientists to learn whether there really was life on the Red Planet in its distant past.

"Understanding the processes and sequence of events that shaped this rich organic bounty will reveal new details about Mars' habitability and potentially about the reactions that could lead to the formation of life," said study co-author Andrew Steele.

Source: Live Science | Comments (6)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by qxcontinuum 1 year ago
So it is not possible that 700k -1 million years ago was the time when life on Mars was decimated and its entire ecosystem destroyed?  I dare to say that's also the time when Saturn's rings were formed .    
Comment icon #2 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 1 year ago
Nope, Mars lost it's magnetic field more than 4 billion years ago leading to the rapid loss of most its atmosphere, so whilst it is possible that Mars once had an ecosystem that was decimated, you are out by a factor of at least 4000 about when this happened.  You can dare say whatever you like, it doesn't make it true. Saturn's rings are around 10 -100 million years old, so you are only out by a factor of 10 - 100 this time.
Comment icon #3 Posted by LadyPhoenix 1 year ago
I hate to be a party pooper here, but they can't even predict the weather a couple of days from now, and I'm supposed to believe they can know a space rock came from Mars a million years ago?  Color me skeptical.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 1 year ago
How is weather forecasting related to the mineral make up of a Martian meteorite? Your scepticism is based on a non-sequitur.
Comment icon #5 Posted by LadyPhoenix 1 year ago
They can't know such a thing.  It's interesting speculation, but still guesswork. 
Comment icon #6 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 1 year ago
They can know such a thing, it's not guesswork. Since the chemical composition of the meteorite is know and the chemical composition of Mars is known if can be logically deduce that the meteorite originated on Mars. No guesswork involved, just knowledge and the ability to think logically. 

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