Space

Curiosity found on Mars organic 3.5 billion years old

The Curiosity rover, wandering along the bottom of the Gale crater, found a large number of organic compounds in the rocks of the Red planet: mainly sulfur-containing organic matter, thiophene, 2- and 3-methylthiophenes and methanthiol, and also benzene, toluene, etc. The age of minerals and organics – about 3.5 billion years.

The organics were detected by chemical analysis of sedimentary rocks at a depth of 5 cm. Earlier, a lake could have been located at the site of the Curiosity rover. Scientists have decided that it is there to expect the accumulation of organic substances.

The scientists noted that all these sulfur-containing substances in such large quantities were preserved due to their stability. But over the origin of these compounds still have to break his head. The researchers do not exclude the biological or geological reasons for their occurrence. As, however, and non-natural fall of a meteorite with organic compounds on Mars.

“The Martian surface is open to cosmic radiation, ” Ian Eigenbrog, one of the conference speakers , quotes Rings & Moons . – Radiation and chemical effects destroy organic matter. The discovery of ancient organic compounds in the five upper centimeters of the rock, which accumulated when Mars could be inhabited, bodes well for the study of the history of organic molecules by future missions that will drill deeper.

In 2015, the team Curiosity reported that the rover “sniffed” in the atmosphere of the planet bursts of methane. Scientists throughout all these years followed changes in methane concentration and measured seasonal fluctuations. It turned out that the amount of methane in the atmosphere increases in summer and decreases in winter. At the same time, by the summer, the concentration increases almost threefold. On average, the amount of gas was 0.41 (plus or minus 0.16) billionths per unit volume and during the year it varied from 0.24 to 0.65 billion per unit volume.

Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Scientists suggest that methane is formed in the lower layers of the soil, accumulates inside micro-caves, and then escapes outward. It is generated either as a result of decomposition of clathrates (crystalline compounds of water and methane), either because of some geothermal reactions, or as a result of the activity of microbes. The latter, of course, is a far less likely scenario.

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