Life on Mars? Perseverance Rover's Exciting Organic Molecule Discovery

NASA's Perseverance Rover, in its near-three-year mission, makes a groundbreaking discovery of potential organic molecules on Mars

Life on Mars? Perseverance Rover's Exciting Organic Molecule Discovery

Thursday July 20, 2023,

3 min Read

For almost three years, NASA's latest rover, named Perseverance, has been moving around on Mars. Its main job is to figure out if life might have once existed on this planet that's closest to Earth. Recently, it found something really cool - what looks like signs of organic molecules in a place called the Jezero Crater.

The Jezero Crater used to be a lake full of different types of minerals. This makes it a really good place to look for signs of life. Perseverance found organic molecules - that's a fancy term for the stuff that makes up living things - in parts of the crater named Máaz and Séítah. This could mean that Mars once had life.

The rover was able to make this discovery because of a special instrument it carries called SHERLOC. It's got cameras, spectrometers, and a laser, and it's fixed onto Perseverance's robotic arm. SHERLOC helps scientists look at how minerals and organics are arranged, which could show signs of past life.

But here's something to remember - while organic molecules are part of life, they can also be made in ways that don't involve life. So, before we can say that there definitely was life on Mars, we have to be sure these molecules didn't come from non-living sources.

These organic molecules are made of carbon, just like the ones made by living things on Earth. They might have been left by ancient tiny life forms, or they might have been made in a different way.

Finding these molecules on Mars helps us imagine what the planet's past could have been like. Maybe Mars was once a place where life could live and grow. What kind of life was it? Where did it go? These are the questions that scientists will try to answer next.

Some scientists think that these new molecules could even give us a clue about chemicals we haven't found yet. This would help us learn more about how chemistry works outside Earth.

Perseverance's discovery is really exciting. It makes us think about Mars in a new way - not just as a quiet, empty planet, but maybe as a place with a rich history. Every bit of information we find brings us one step closer to solving the mystery of Mars and understanding the universe.

As Perseverance keeps exploring Mars, it will continue to find new things that could change how we think about our neighboring planet, and maybe even about our own Earth. The quest for knowledge never ends, and Mars might just be the next big thing to learn about.

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