These two need to solve puzzles to find life on Mars

In June, NASA unveiled two mind-blowing facts: Mars has organic matter and methane in the atmosphere of the planet is changing over time. This is amazing news that shocked our understanding of astrobiology. And while they certainly do not prove the existence of aliens, most of the methane on Earth is still produced by living beings. And even a child will tell you that if you smelled it, then someone had to do it.

These two need to solve puzzles to find life on Mars

The last discovery of methane "surprised us with reliable data, which require interpretation," wrote a group of international scientists in a study published earlier this month in Astrobiology. The study's authors, in fact, strengthened the thesis of his work - they took what measurements, experiments and NASA missions and other aerospace organizations have to put to the fore, to find more evidence that Mars supported (or supported) life.

In short, the scientists want to explore the geological activity of Mars. They want to understand the relationship between newly discovered organic compounds and fluctuations of methane in the atmosphere. Their goal - to find traces of other molecules and gases, which may allow some primitive microscopic form of life to survive beneath the surface. That's what they are looking for.

First, a redox gradient

When we eat, our bodies draw energy from our food by chemical reactions that create a flow of electrons and oxygen atoms between molecules. These swings are needed makeup of our bodies - all living beings need it. But because of the extreme atmosphere of Mars, this balance does not exist. The atmosphere oxidizes so strongly that these reactions occur in only one direction. Any living creature on Mars is so strongly react with air, which can not survive. Researchers are looking at the components of the Martian atmosphere, which could balance this reaction, thus giving life a chance to develop.

Second, the source of methane

The next step towards understanding whether Mars could support life, according to scientists, is to dig up the surface of Mars and find out where does all this methane. While living beings on Earth produce methane as the digestion of food, it's not the only way to create this gas in the atmosphere. Future missions NASA InSight peep beneath the surface of Mars. Its main task - to understand the seismic activity of the planet, but who knows what she would find at the same time.

Why is the level of methane on Mars fluctuates? Seasonal freezing and thawing of ice, which gradually grasps and releases methane (we know this from the data the rover "Kyuriositi"). But there is no easy way to check how the methane is there and whether it becomes greater with time. And it means that the search for the source of Martian methane is much more difficult than grasp the finger of a little green man. By examining the chemical composition of groundwater samples and the atmosphere, the scientists could find out where does this methane - from biological processes or complex chemical reactions that do not involve life.

Scientists who are all considered, but do not believe that we have strong evidence of life on Mars. In fact, once I said Caleb Scharf, is much more reasonable to assume that it does not exist anywhere other than Earth. In the end, it's the only place that we know for sure.

But if, for some fantastic probability, took refuge under the surface of microbes on Mars or if there was another form of life, the strategy of the authors of the study probably represents our best chance to find them.

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