NASA analysis suggests that Mars rovers may have to drill nearly seven feet below the surface to find evidence of ancient life on the Red Planet.
The discovery of some amino acids may be a possible sign of the existence of aliens because they are widely used in life on Earth as an ingredient for building proteins necessary for life, because they are used to make enzymes that speed up or regulate chemical reactions and the formation of structures, according to the RT report.
However, new research by the US space agency has revealed that amino acids on the surface of Mars are destroyed by cosmic rays much faster than previously thought.
“Current Mars missions are down to two inches (about five centimeters), at those depths, it would take just 20 million years to completely destroy the amino acids,” said Alexander Pavlov of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. further destruction of amino acids.
The period of 20 million years is relatively short, because scientists are looking for evidence of ancient life on the surface that existed billions of years ago when Mars was more like Earth.
Experts say this means rovers may have to dig 6.6 feet (two metres) or more below the surface of Mars to find signs of ancient life. This would counter the risk that small molecules such as amino acids could be degraded by ionizing radiation from space.
“Shallow sampling missions should look for recently exposed outcrops – for example, recent microcrates less than 10 million years old or material extruded from these craters,” said Pavlov, lead author of the new research.
Cosmic rays are also high-energy particles (mostly protons and helium ions) that are generated by powerful events on the Sun and in deep space, such as solar flares and exploding stars.
It can decompose or destroy organic molecules when they penetrate a few meters into solid, ionized rock and destroy everything in their path.
Earth’s thick atmosphere and global magnetic field shield the surface from most cosmic rays, something that Mars also had, but lost that protection over time.
However, there is evidence that billions of years ago, this thick atmosphere allowed liquid water to persist on the surface of the Red Planet.
Since liquid water is essential to life, scientists want to find out if it appeared on Mars by examining the rocks for organic molecules such as amino acids.
The team mixed several types of amino acids in silica, hydrated silica or silica and perchlorate to simulate conditions in Martian soil, and sealed the samples in test tubes under vacuum conditions to simulate the thin Martian air.
Some samples were kept at room temperature, the highest temperature ever on Mars, while others were cooled to -67 degrees Fahrenheit (-55 degrees Celsius).
The samples were blasted with different levels of gamma rays – a type of high-energy light – to simulate cosmic ray doses even those received from about 80 million years of exposure in the rocks of the Martian surface.
Previous experiments tested gamma radiation on samples of pure amino acids, but it’s unlikely you’ll find a large group of a single amino acid in a billion-year-old rock.
And while the amino acids haven’t been found on Mars yet, they have been discovered in meteorites, including one from Mars.
He identified several straight-chain amino acids in the Antarctic Martian meteorite RBT 04262 at Goddard’s Laboratory of Analytical Astrobiology.
Since meteorites from Mars are typically ejected from depths of at least 3.3 feet (one meter) or more, it is possible that the amino acids in RBT 04262 were shielded from cosmic radiation.
Organic matter has been found on Mars by NASA’s Curiosity and Perseverance rover, but it’s not a definitive sign of life because experts say it may have been created by non-biological chemistry.
The results of this latest experiment also indicate that it is possible that the organic materials observed by these roving compounds have changed over time due to radiation, and thus are not the same as when they were formed.
“Proud twitter enthusiast. Introvert. Hardcore alcohol junkie. Lifelong food specialist. Internet guru.”