NASA finds strongest evidence yet of alien life on Mars

Life on Mars? NASA’s Curiosity rover discovers ancient evidence on the red planet

Curiosity recently discovered carbon-containing compounds in an ancient lakebed, as well as shifting levels of the organic molecule methane in the Martian atmosphere. A researcher of Maryland based Goddard space centre of NASA informed the Carbon element found on Mars planet is not the exact evidence of life.

The discovery has been reported in the journal Science by NASA's Jennifer Eigenbrode and an global team of scientists.

They could be evidence for the development of ancient life on Mars but they could also have come from a meteorite or other sources, Efe reported. Although the surface of Mars is inhospitable today, there is evidence that in the distant past, the Martian climate allowed the presence of liquid water-an essential ingredient for life-at the surface.

"We were a bit puzzled; we weren't sure what those molecules really meant in the bigger picture of the search for life", said biogeochemist at NASA Goddard and lead author of the study, Jennifer Eigenbrode. Should Nasa not make it beforehand, Europe's ExoMars rover due to land on the planet in 2020 will drill deeper than Curiosity can.

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The studies were conducted using evidence collected by NASA's Curiosity rover, which is now rolling around the Martian surface. On Thursday scientists said the rover found potential building blocks of life in an ancient lakebed and confirmed seasonal increases in atmospheric methane. About 95 percent of the methane in Earth's atmosphere is produced from biological activity, though the scientists said it is too soon to know if the Martian methane also is related to life. Samples taken from two different drill sites on the lake bed have been found to contain complex organic molecules that look very similar to the fossilized building blocks of oil and gas on Earth. The result of this finding could make for further discovery for future missions to ascertain the source of the methane. The research hints that-just maybe-there was a life on Mars, or still is hiding somewhere underground.

Scientists agree more powerful spacecraft-and, ideally, rocks returned to Earth from Mars-are needed to prove whether tiny organisms like bacteria ever existed on the red planet. The experiment involved scientists heating the rock fragments to more than 900 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a close inspection of the molecules that wafted away.

By examining data spanning almost three Martian years (six Earth years), Webster and his colleagues discerned the first repeating pattern in Martian methane.

"We were kind of shocked to see that with the seasons, the signal changes by a factor of three, which is a huge change and completely unexpected", says Chris Webster, a rover scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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