Study shows difficulty in finding evidence of life on Mars

NASA’s Perseverance Rover, shown in this artistic rendering, will land on the Jjero crater of Mars in February 2021 and begin collecting soil samples shortly thereafter. Scientists are now concerned about acidic liquids, once on Mars, that may have ruined the evidence of life contained in sections. Credit: NASA / JPL / Caltech / Provided

In more than a decade, rover-scooped Martian soil samples will rocket the Earth.

While scientists are eager to study the red planet’s soil for signs of life, researchers must face a very new challenge: acidic fluids – which once flowed on the surface of Mars – may be Mars Biological evidence hidden within the iron-rich soil of the planet may have been destroyed. Researcher at Cornell University and Spain’s Centro de Astrobiolia.

The researchers conducted simulations involving soil and amino acids to draw conclusions about the potential degradation of organic material on Mars. His paper, “Obstructing the Protection of Organic Compounds in MARS Analog Nontronites After Exposure to Acid and Alkaline Liquids”, published on 15 September in Nature Scientific report.

Alberto ji. Fearon, a scientist in the Department of Astronomy at the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell, is a related author.

NASA’s Perseverance Rover, launched on July 30, will land in the Jjero crater of Mars next February; The European Space Agency’s Rosalind Franklin Rover will launch in late 2022. The Perseverance Mission will collect Martian soil samples and send them to Earth by 2030. Rosalind Franklin Rover will drill into the Martian surface, collect soil samples and analyze them in situ.

In search of life on Mars, the red planet soil surface soil is a preferred collection target because the soil protects molecular organic materials from inside. However, the previous presence of acid on the surface may have compromised the ability of the soil to protect evidence of past life.

“We know that acidic liquids have flowed to the surface of Mars in the past, altering its ability to protect organisms,” Feyren said.

He stated that the internal structure of soil is organized into layers, where evidence of biological life — such as lipids, nucleic acids, peptides, and other biopolymers — can be trapped and well preserved.

In the laboratory, researchers simulated Martian surface conditions with the aim of preserving an amino acid called glycine in the soil, which was previously exposed to acidic liquids. “We used glycine because it can degrade rapidly under the environmental conditions of the planet,” he said. “It’s the perfect informant to explain what was going on inside our experiments.”

After prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation such as Mars, experiments showed photodegradation of glycine molecules embedded in soil. The interlayer space disappears upon exposure to acidic fluids, which transforms it into gel-like silica.

Fearn said, “When there is soil contact with acidic liquids, the layers collapse and the organic materials are not preserved. They are destroyed.” “Our results in this paper show how difficult it is to find organic compounds on Mars.”

Picture: Mars Rover Revival

more information:
Carolina Gil-Lozano et al., Obstruction of organic compounds in Mars-compliant nontronites after exposure to acids and alkaline liquids; Scientific report (2020). DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-020-71657-9

Provided by Cornell University

Quotes: Study Shows Difficulty in Finding Evidence of Life on Mars (2020, 15 September) Retrieved 15 September 2020 from

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