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Did natural batteries create Mars’ organic carbon?

9 Nov 2018, 11:23 UTC
Did natural batteries create Mars’ organic carbon?
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Mars as seen by one of the Viking orbiters in the late 1970s. We now know there are organics there, but where did they come from? Image via NASA.
For a long time, it wasn’t known if organic compounds – compounds containing carbon – existed on Mars. They are ubiquitous within living things on Earth, but – due to its thinner atmosphere – these compounds would be destroyed on Mars’ surface by strong incoming ultraviolet radiation. Still, scientists have thought that there should be some organics on Mars – hidden within rocks or perhaps just under the surface – even if just very simple ones from the meteorites that strike Mars regularly. Various landers and rovers found hints of organics, but nothing too substantial. Then, earlier in 2018, the Curiosity rover finally hit pay dirt, finding evidence for abundant organics in the ancient mudstone rocks in Gale crater, which used to be a martian lake billions of years ago. These carbon molecules ranged from simple to fairly complex, but their actual origin was still unknown. They could be created by abiotic processes (without life). Or they could be the molecular remains of once-living organisms.
Now, a new study by scientists ...

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