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Illustration : paysage martien sous un climat plus chaud et humide, comme c'était le cas il y a plus de 3,5 milliards d'années. La vie s'était-elle installée à sa surface à cette période ? © dottedyeti, Adobe Stock

We are now certain that the basic ingredients of life existed on its surface

Since 2012, the Round Curiosity is conducting probes on the surface of Mars with the aim of better control Climate evolution of the Red Planet and water availability Liquid In its past, but determine whether or not Mars could ever support life.

Now if we know that Many lakes and rivers Mars shaped the landscape and its Climate The day was favorable for life, and no direct biological traces had yet been detected. No matter, scientists continue to searchappearance of life.

An amount of organic carbon comparable to that of some terrestrial regions

In 2014, curiosity A series of experiments were carried out to measure its fraction Carbon Total organic matter on Mars. After eight years of data analysis, the results are finally available in the journal PNAS And Martian rocks are relatively rich in organic carbon, one of the key ingredients for setting kinetic chemical reactions. Prebiotics And possible Construction Biological molecules.

It’s been a while since scientists discovered traces of organic carbon Red planet. But evaluating its available amount is an important parameter that determines the growth potential of life. The results are surprising because they show that Martian rocks contain a significant fraction of organic carbon comparable to some terrestrial regions. Admittedly, the values ​​are similar to those of harsh environments depleted in organic carbon. Repository topography), as Atacama Desert, but these are encouraging results as far as Mars is concerned. Because it shows that enough carbon is available for construction (opinion). Organic moleculesIt is the basis of all life forms known to date.

Water, carbon, energy sources…all the ingredients of life together

Total organic carbon is defined as the amount of carbon atoms bonded to organic molecules (usually composed of hydrogen atoms).Oxygen and D’Nitrogen) if most of the organic carbon on Earth is of biological origin, it may be of non-biological origin, esp Meteorites, volcanic activity, or some chemical reaction on the planet’s surface. The presence of organic carbon on Mars does not in any way prove that life has evolved on the planet.

Along with liquid water, the significant presence of organic carbon on the other hand is a new element, indicating that the basic ingredients for life were present on Mars a few billion years ago. There would have been a Gale crater where Curiosity would have developed A place favorable enough for the origin of lifeBesides water and carbon, there are other essential elements in the ecosystem: resourcesEnergyLow acidity, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur.

So curiosity may be well-placed to find the first traces of the sought-after Martian life. However, if they exist, accessing them will be harder than we thought.

Review the search strategy for organic molecules such as amino acids

A new experiment was carried out by NASA To really have a chance of finding organic molecules, the rover would have to drill down to two meters deep into Mars. This is especially true of searchAmino acidsIt may or may not be of biological origin, but in all cases it is considered as building blocks for construction. Protein. However, the acids Amino acids are fragile and easily destroyed Cosmic Rays Thin reaches the Martian surface Atmosphere Does not provide effective protection. Currently, the rovers are drilling to a depth of five centimeters. At this depth, scientists estimate that amino acids are destroyed in just 20 million years. Knowing that life on Mars could have evolved billions of years ago, exploring this shallow scale seems completely futile.

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These results are published Astronomy, show the need to implement a new search strategy for rovers currently in operation, which unfortunately are not equipped to drill to the required depth. A solution must be found Outdoor crops Recently revealed deep areas such as small impact craters less than 10 million years old or material ejected from such craters.

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