NASA’s Curiosity Rover Has Stumbled Upon Something Strange On Mars

By: | January 23rd, 2022

One of the drill holes used to sample sediment in the Gale crater. (NASA/Caltech-JPL/MSSS)

It would be impossible for life on Earth to exist without carbon. It’s like the backbone of all forms of life. Carbon is the main component of proteins, DNA, fats, muscle tissue, sugars…almost everything in our body.

Therefore, one working hypothesis is that life on other planets might also be carbon-based

To prove this theory further, the Curiosity Rover on Mars has recently found an unusual mix of chemical elements that point to life on Mars.

Discovering carbon on Mars gets scientists excited

After analyzing these rock samples, scientists have concluded that the type of carbon is associated with biological processes on Earth. Scientists have several explanations for the unusual carbon signals.

Christopher House, a Curiosity scientist based at Pennsylvania State University who led the carbon study said, “The samples extremely depleted in carbon 13 are a little like samples from Australia taken from sediment that was 2.7 billion years old,”

“Those samples were caused by biological activity when methane was consumed by ancient microbial mats, but we can’t necessarily say that on Mars because it’s a planet that may have formed out of different materials and processes than Earth.”

More analysis is required to come to any conclusions about how these carbon signatures came about. NASA has planned further drilling at the same spot where most of the samples were collected in a month.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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