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Ancient Life May Be Just One Possible Explanation for the Latest Discoveries of the Mars Rover.

NASA’s Curiosity Rover has fulfilled its almost decade’s mission in exploring life beyond Earth to determine if Mars can live for living things. A new analysis of sediment samples collected by Rover revealed the presence of carbon. The existence of ancient life on the Red Planet is only one potential explanation for why it is there. Carbon is the basis of all life on earth, and the carbon cycle is a natural process of reusing carbon atoms. On our home planet, carbon atoms move from the atmosphere to the ground and undergo cycles as they return to the atmosphere. According to NOAA, or the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, most of our carbon is in rocks and sediments, and the rest is in the Earth’s oceans, atmosphere, and living organisms. Therefore, carbon atoms are a tracer of biological activity, along with a recycling cycle. On earth. Therefore, it may help researchers determine if life exists on Mars. When these atoms are measured inside another substance, such as a Martian deposit, they can shed light on the planet’s carbon cycle, regardless of when it occurred. Knowing more about the origin This newly detected analysis of Martian carbon may also reveal the process of the carbon cycle on Mars. A study detailing these findings, published in the National Academy of Sciences Journal Proceedings on Monday. Named after Australian astronomer Walter F. Gale, the 96-mile crater was probably formed by a meteorite impact 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago. There may have been a lake in the large cavity, and now there is a mountain called Mount Sharp. The crater also contains exposed ancient rock layers. On closer inspection, Rover excavated between August 2012 and July 2021 to collect samples of sediment throughout the crater. Then, with curiosity, these 24 powder samples were heated to about 1,562 degrees Fahrenheit to separate the elements. .. This released methane from the sample and analyzed it with another instrument in Rover’s arsenal, indicating the presence of stable carbon isotopes or carbon atoms. Some samples were depleted of carbon and others were enriched. Carbon has two stable isotopes, measured as carbon-12 or carbon-13. “The carbon-13 extremely depleted sample is a bit like an Australian sample taken from a 2.7 billion year old sediment,” said Principal Investigator Christopher H. House. A professor of earth sciences at Pennsylvania State University said in a statement: “These samples were caused by biological activity when methane was consumed by ancient microbial mats, but on Mars it is a different material and process than Earth.” In lakes on Earth, microorganisms are essential. Likes to grow in large colonies that form mats under the surface of the water. Three possible carbon origins Various measurements of these carbon atoms may suggest three very different things about ancient times. May be Mars. According to researchers, the origin of carbon can be due to space dust, microbial decomposition of carbon dioxide, or microbial decomposition of biologically produced methane. According to House, the scenario. Includes the passage of the entire solar system through a cloud of galaxy dust, which occurs every 100 million years. Particley clouds can trigger cooling events on rocky planets. “It doesn’t deposit a lot of dust,” House said. “It is difficult to see these deposition events in Earth’s records.” However, during such events, it is possible that a cloud of cosmic dust lowered the temperature of ancient Mars, which may have had liquid water. There is sex. This may have created a glacier on Mars, leaving a layer of dust on the ice. When the ice melted, a layer of carbon-containing deposits would have remained. Although fully possible, there is little evidence of glaciers in the Gale Crater, and the authors of the study state that further research is needed.In the second scenario, Martian carbon dioxide is exposed to formaldehyde and other organic compounds. Will be converted to. This hypothesis also requires additional research. The third method by which this carbon was produced may have biological roots. When this type of depleted carbon measurement is made on Earth, it indicates that the microorganism was consuming biologically produced methane. Curiosity has previously detected methane on Mars, but researchers can only speculate if there was once a large plume of methane released from beneath the surface of Mars. If so, they would have consumed this methane if there were microorganisms on the surface of Mars. It is also possible that methane interacted with UV light, leaving traces of carbon on the surface of Mars. Further drilling on the horizon The Curiosity Rover will return to where most of the samples were collected in about a month. This gives us another opportunity to analyze sediments from this interesting location. “This study has achieved the long-standing goal of exploration of Mars,” said Haus. “Measuring various carbon isotopes, one of the most important geological tools, from sediments in another habitable world. This is done by examining nine years of exploration.”

In the search for life beyond Earth, NASA’s Curiosity Rover has been on a mission for almost a decade to determine if Mars was habitable for living things.

A new analysis of sediment samples collected by Rover revealed the presence of carbon. The existence of ancient life on the Red Planet is only one potential explanation for its existence.

Carbon is the basis of all life on earth, and the carbon cycle is the natural process of recycling carbon atoms. On our home planet, carbon atoms move from the atmosphere to the ground and undergo cycles as they return to the atmosphere. According to us, most of our carbon is in rocks and sediments, and the rest is in the world’s oceans, atmosphere and organisms. NOAA, Or the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Therefore, carbon atoms are a tracer of biological activity on Earth, along with a recycling cycle. Therefore, they may help researchers determine if life existed on ancient Mars.

When these atoms are measured inside another substance, such as Martian deposits, they can shed light on the planet’s carbon cycle, regardless of when it happened.

Further learning about the origin of this newly discovered carbon on Mars can also reveal the process of the carbon cycle on Mars.

A study detailing these findings published in the journal on Monday Minutes of the National Academy of Sciences..

Sediment secrets

Curiosity landed on the Gale Crater on Mars in August 2012. Named after Australian astronomer Walter F. Gale, the 96-mile crater was probably formed by a meteorite impact 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago. There may have been a lake in the large cavity, and now there is a mountain called Mount Sharp. The crater also contains exposed ancient rock layers.

To confirm the details, Rover excavated between August 2012 and July 2021 to collect a sample of sediment throughout the crater. Curiosity then heated these 24 powder samples to about 1,562 degrees Fahrenheit to separate the elements. This released methane from the sample and analyzed it with another instrument in Rover’s arsenal, indicating the presence of stable carbon isotopes or carbon atoms.

Some samples were carbon depleted, while others were concentrated. Carbon has two stable isotopes, measured as carbon-12 or carbon-13.

“The extremely carbon-13 depleted sample is a bit like an Australian sample taken from a 2.7 billion year old sediment,” said Christopher H. House, Principal Research Author and Professor of Earth Sciences at Pennsylvania State University. Stated in a statement.

“These samples were caused by biological activity when methane was consumed by ancient microbial mats, because Mars is a planet that may have been formed from materials and processes different from Earth. , Not always. “

In lakes on Earth, microorganisms like to grow in large colonies that essentially form mats below the surface of the water.

Three possible carbon origins

Various measurements of these carbon atoms may suggest three very different things about ancient Mars. The origin of carbon can be due to cosmic dust, UV decomposition of carbon dioxide, or UV decomposition of biologically produced methane.

According to the researchers, “all three scenarios are unconventional, unlike the processes that are common on Earth.”

According to House, the first scenario involves the entire solar system passing through a cloud of galaxy dust. This happens every 100 million years. Particley clouds can trigger cooling events on rocky planets.

“It doesn’t deposit a lot of dust,” House said. “It’s hard to see any of these deposit events in Earth’s records.”

However, during such an event, a cloud of cosmic dust may have lowered the temperature of ancient Mars, which may have had liquid water. This may have created a glacier on Mars, leaving a layer of dust on the ice. When the ice melted, a layer of carbon-containing deposits would have remained. It’s perfectly possible, but there is little evidence of Gale Crater glaciers, and the authors of the study said it would require further research.

In the second scenario, carbon dioxide on Mars is converted by UV light into organic compounds such as formaldehyde. That hypothesis also requires additional research.

The third method by which this carbon was produced may have biological roots.

When this type of depleted carbon measurement is made on Earth, it indicates that the microorganism was consuming biologically produced methane. Curiosity has previously detected methane on Mars, but researchers can only speculate if there was once a large plume of methane released from beneath the surface of Mars. If this were the case and there were microbes on the surface of Mars, they would have consumed this methane.

It is possible that methane interacted with UV light, leaving traces of carbon on the surface of Mars.

More excavation on the horizon

Curiosity Rover will return to the location where most of the samples were collected in about a month. This gives us another opportunity to analyze sediments from this interesting location.

“This study has achieved the long-standing goal of exploration of Mars,” Haus said. “Measuring various carbon isotopes, one of the most important geological tools, from sediments in another habitable world. This is done by examining nine years of exploration.”

Ancient life may be just one possible explanation for the latest discoveries of the Mars rover.

Source link Ancient life may be just one possible explanation for the latest discoveries of the Mars rover.

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