Scientists Detect Intriguing New Signals of Organic Molecules on Mars

Materials discovered in the rocks of Jezero Crater on Mars imply that organic stuff may be present in large quantities there.

The Perseverance rover's spectroscopic analytical tools have identified evidence of hydrocarbon molecules in a number of rock formations. Additionally, the detections reveal various molecular kinds and abundances in various rocks.

The Curiosity rover also discovered organic molecules in the Gale Crater, so this is not the first time organic molecules have been identified on our neighboring planet. However, the finding shows that the necessary components for life may be present throughout Mars and provided by various creation methods.

According to astrobiologist Sunanda Sharma of Caltech, who oversaw the study, "We have detected signals consistent with aromatic organic molecules in multiple rocks in the Jezero crater floor."

"We see three forms of potentially organic Raman signals and at least four different types of fluorescence signals. It appears that the Máaz unit has more fluorescence detections and a greater variety of fluorescence signals than the Sétah unit. Such variances might indicate that the units had distinct alterations histories, which was unexpected and intriguing.

Finding evidence of Mars's habitability is one of Perseverance's main goals. Of However, there are many non-biological processes that may make compounds based on carbon, thus carbon chemistry isn't a conclusive indicator of that. However, since carbon is necessary for life as we know it, carbon-containing molecules are among the most important things to check for when determining if an area is habitable.

It's also crucial that rocks retain the capacity to hold onto these molecules. These site-specific traits would imply that life may have developed or was maintained there at some point throughout Mars' history.

Sharma and her team examined rocks from the Máaz and Sétah formations using Raman and fluorescence spectroscopy to search for signs of carbon chemistry using Perseverance's SHERLOC device. They not only discovered the signals they were looking for, but also significant variations in the chemistry of the rocks.

Sharma declares, "I'm primarily interested in the similarities between units.

In terms of the quantity, variety, and mineral connections of the potential organic signals, Maaz and Sétah did not appear to be same. How does this tie into the account of Jezero crater? I'm now interested in what may have happened to cause such variances.

Both formations exhibit water modification, albeit the precise chemicals are still unknown. This implies that water, another essential component for previously habitable circumstances, may have contributed to the development of the compounds.

Since then, the rover has gone on, and a ton more data is on the way. The next stage is to contrast various rock formation types at fresh sites. This could facilitate the construction of a more thorough geological history of Mars and its organic compounds.

The researchers is hopeful that since organic compounds seem to be present in large quantities, samples being prepared for return to Earth by Perseverance will also contain them. We will eventually have the chance to examine them firsthand if this is the case.

This, according to Sharma, is a crucial element of the picture we are piecing together regarding the existence, distribution, and kinds of organics on Mars.

The team's research has been published in Nature.