NASA’s car-sized robot, the Curiosity rover, had landed on Mars back in August 2012. Since then, the robot has carried out several scientific experiments and has gathered samples for scientists to analyze. During a derivatization experiment, Curiosity discovered organic molecules that scientists had not previously detected. The findings were published in Nature Astronomy, and NASA scientists explain what happened with the collected Martian dirt sample.
Curiosity made the discovery by accident
According to sources, NASA’s Curiosity rover was working on Mars’ Vera Rubin at Mount Sharp. The rover collected a sample of Martian soil, and then scientists decided to send the rover to a different route. Then, the sample collected was dropped in a cup with a certain chemical mixture. The molecules detected in the cup were never before discovered by other space agencies. The organic molecules were not the thing scientists were looking for, but the discovery was a great success.
This sample could be used in future experiments on the Red Planet
The sample of organic molecules will be stored and used in other experiments. The team behind the Curiosity mission aims to find signs of ancient life on the planet. They suspect Mars was not always cold and barren and that in the past, rivers, and lakes might have existed, even microbial life.
NASA scientists are looking for biosignatures such as chemicals that could have been present in the distant past or other clues to prove this theory. Scientists discovered other organic molecules on Mars in the past, but the new findings will help scientists discover more about this planet.
Some of the organic molecules identified in past missions are benzoic acid and ammonia. Finding biosignatures can be the first step in detecting life forms or signs of extinct life forms. The next step is for the NASA team to identify where the molecules came from.