NASA Burned Up Proof of Mars Life 40 Years Ago

This view from the Viking 2 shows Utopia Planitia on Mars in 1976. Until now, NASA hasn't found the source of the organic molecules Curiosity rover discovered. This followed the first confirmation of organic molecules on Mars in 2014.

Along with the recent Curiosity data, the latest research indicates organic material is scattered across a range of sites on Mars - meaning more discoveries could be on the horizon. In a recent study in the Journal of Geophysical Research, planetary geomorphologist Mackenzie Day and astrobiologist David Catling announced their discovery of about 800 "ghost dunes"-the imprints of ancient sand piles-clustered in two different locations on Mars". "The only thing that we know for sure is that the flow had to be relatively low energy, relatively slow, otherwise it would erode the dunes and we wouldn't get the shapes that we see today".

Chris McKay is a scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center (Silicon Valley) and the lead author of the study. This chlorine-oxygen salt is used in the production of fireworks and propellants because it's a powerful oxidizing agent that can be explosive under the right conditions. And while the surface of Mars isn't too warm, the main instrument aboard the Viking landers, the gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GCMS), had to heat the Martian soil samples to find organic molecules.

Nevertheless, the final conclusion of the paper said the salt might have chlorinated any organics inside the Viking instruments after it performed its sample acquisition from Mars.

Now, a study from a team of scientists proposed that the Viking landers, when it landed on the Martian soil, impacted the first organic material that could have already been discovered at the time.

"This molecule is created when carbon molecules burn with perchlorate, so scientists suspect that it could have been created when the soil samples were burnt during Viking exploration", said the report.

However, in 1976, NASA " s twin Viking landers conducted the first experiments that searched for organic matter on the Red Planet.

However, scientists are still divided over calling this as sufficient proof.

Guzman said she still isn't completely convinced that the chlorobenzene they detected formed when organics in Martian soil were burned.

"Any one of these pits is not enough to tell you that it's a dune, or from an ancient dune field, but when you put them all together, they have so many commonalities with dunes on Mars and on Earth that you have to employ some kind of fantastic explanation to explain them as anything other than dunes."

But Dr. Daniel Glavin, from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, declared that the paper finally proves that the probes found evidence for life on the planet.

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