Results tagged “Mars”

The quest for evidence of life on Mars could be more difficult than scientists previously thought. A scientific paper published today details the investigation of a chemical in the Martian soil that interferes with the techniques used by the Curiosity rover to test for traces of life. The chemical causes the evidence to burn away during the tests.

An instrument similar to those used on Earth by art detectives and to sense explosives at airports will be taken into space for the first time by ExoMars, the European Space Agency's mission to Mars in 2018. This Raman spectrometer will help space scientists to hunt for traces of Martian life.

Professor Steven Benner will tell geochemists gathering today (Thursday, 29 August) at the annual Goldschmidt conference that an oxidized mineral form of the element molybdenum, which may have been crucial to the origin of life, could only have been available on the surface of Mars and not on Earth.

A new study has shown how low temperature chemical reactions between iron-containing minerals and water could produce hydrogen 'food' for microorganisms that inhabit pores and cracks in rocks below the ocean floor and parts of the continents.

Ancient Snowfall on Mars?

Valley networks branching across the Martian surface leave little doubt that water once flowed on the Red Planet. But where that ancient water came from -- whether it bubbled up from underground or fell as rain or snow -- is still debated by scientists. A new study by researchers at Brown University puts a new check mark in the precipitation column.

Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, astrobiologists Alberto Fairen of Cornell University and Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University say the NASA Office of Planetary Protection's "detailed and expensive" efforts to keep Earth microorganisms off Mars are making missions to search for life on the red planet "unviable."

The compositions of the 3.7-billion-year-old surface rocks on Mars -- as observed by the Spirit rover at Gusev crater -- are shown to be consistent with early mixing of oxidized surface material into the uppermost Martian mantle: such oxidation appears to have had less influence on more recent volcanic rocks, which are sampled as Martian meteorites.

Researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa NASA Astrobiology Institute (UHNAI) have discovered high concentrations of boron in a Martian meteorite. When present in its oxidized form (borate), boron may have played a key role in the formation of RNA, one of the building blocks for life. The work was published on June 6 in PLOS One.

Despite satellite images that show vast networks of channels, past Mars rover missions have shown limited evidence for flowing water on Mars.

The temperature in the permafrost on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian high Arctic is nearly as cold as that of the surface of Mars. So the recent discovery by a McGill University led team of scientists of a bacterium that is able to thrive at -15oC, the coldest temperature ever reported for bacterial growth, is exciting.

Mars Icebreaker Life Mission

Missions to Mars have only scratched its surface. To go deeper, scientists are proposing a spacecraft that can drill into the Red Planet to potentially find signs of life.

In an effort to determine if conditions were ever right on Mars to sustain life, a team of scientists, including a Michigan State University professor, has examined a meteorite that formed on the red planet more than a billion years ago. And although this team's work is not specifically solving the mystery, it is laying the groundwork for future researchers to answer this age-old question.

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