The clay minerals discovered by the Curiosity rover in the Gale Crater of Mars can preserve organic compounds for a long time. Now, scientists from the Center for Astrobiology have verified in the simulation cabin that short-term exposure to acidic liquids will greatly complicate the preservation of these compounds. This is a factor to consider when searching for life on the red planet.
If ever there was life Mars, It may find the best opportunity to prosper in the first 1.5 billion years of the earth’s history. At that time, there was a lot of water on the surface of the earth. At the same time, the ocean has settled on the earth, and life prevails in our world. Of course, they are only single-celled life forms. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that if there is life on Mars during the same period, it will not evolve beyond single-cell life.
Finding this possible trace of primitive Martian life is not easy. The surface and underground of Mars are not ideal places to preserve organic compounds that can retain information about possible past life forms. The radiation intensity is high, absolutely dry, and they also contain a lot of oxidizing compounds.
however The curiosity of the wanderer The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) managed to identify on Mars Crater gale. In the early geological history of Mars, this crater lived in a small lake for millions of years, and the organic compounds discovered by Curiosity may represent the remnants of biological forms present in the lake.
Acid exposure analysis
A scientific research team led by researchers from all over the world Astrobiology Center (taxi, CSIC-INTA) just published in the magazine Scientific report A study that added a new modulator to protect organic compounds on Mars has not yet attracted attention: exposure to acids, although they also analyzed the effects of basic compounds.
For CAB researcher and lead author of this study, Carolina Gil-Lozano, “The results of this work have once again confirmed the importance of conducting similar experiments in a planetary simulation module to support the search for signs of life on Mars. ”
He said: “It is well known that once Mars loses oceans, lakes and rivers, a small amount of water will continue to filter between the rocks, separated by millions of years of absolute dryness in specific events.” Alberto G FernCAB researcher and research director.
According to Fairén, “The chemistry of these fluids circulating between rocks largely determines that organic compounds are still preserved on Mars to this day. Our research describes how exposure to acidic fluids can degrade organic matter in clay Preservation is greatly complicated”.
“The results of the research therefore allow information about the nature of the water that has flowed through the underground soils of the Gale Crater over the past three billion years. Undoubtedly, this type of research will help scientists design future strategies to seek Life on Mars.
C. Gil-Lozano, AGFairén, V. Muñoz-Iglesias, M. Fernández Sampedro, O. Prieto-Ballesteros, L. Gago, C. Gil-Lozano, AGFairén, V. Muñoz-Iglesias, M. Fernández Sampedro, O. Prieto-Ballesteros, L. Gago-Duport, E. Losa-Adams, D. Carrizo, JL Bishop, T. Fornaro and E. Mateo-Martí. http://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-71657-9
This work was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) through the “MarsFirstWater” (ERC Merger Grant 818602) and “icyMARS” (ERC Initial Grant 307496) projects.