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Thread: NASA Finds Ancient Organic Material, Mysterious Methane on Mars

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    Lightbulb NASA Finds Ancient Organic Material, Mysterious Methane on Mars

    Source: NASA



    This low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the site from which it reached down to drill into a rock target called "Buckskin" on lower Mount Sharp. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)



    NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet’s surface and subsurface.

    The new findings – “tough” organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere – appear in the June 8 edition of the journal Science.

    Organic molecules contain carbon and hydrogen, and also may include oxygen, nitrogen and other elements. While commonly associated with life, organic molecules also can be created by non-biological processes and are not necessarily indicators of life.

    “With these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and keep searching for evidence of life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in Washington. “I’m confident that our ongoing and planned missions will unlock even more breathtaking discoveries on the Red Planet.”

    “Curiosity has not determined the source of the organic molecules,” said Jen Eigenbrode of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who is lead author of one of the two new Science papers. “Whether it holds a record of ancient life, was food for life, or has existed in the absence of life, organic matter in Martian materials holds chemical clues to planetary conditions and processes.”

    Although the surface of Mars is inhospitable today, there is clear evidence that in the distant past, the Martian climate allowed liquid water – an essential ingredient for life as we know it – to pool at the surface. Data from Curiosity reveal that billions of years ago, a water lake inside Gale Crater held all the ingredients necessary for life, including chemical building blocks and energy sources.

    “The Martian surface is exposed to radiation from space. Both radiation and harsh chemicals break down organic matter,” said Eigenbrode. “Finding ancient organic molecules in the top five centimeters of rock that was deposited when Mars may have been habitable, bodes well for us to learn the story of organic molecules on Mars with future missions that will drill deeper.”



    Seasonal Methane Releases

    In the second paper, scientists describe the discovery of seasonal variations in methane in the Martian atmosphere over the course of nearly three Mars years, which is almost six Earth years. This variation was detected by Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite.

    Water-rock chemistry might have generated the methane, but scientists cannot rule out the possibility of biological origins. Methane previously had been detected in Mars' atmosphere in large, unpredictable plumes. This new result shows that low levels of methane within Gale Crater repeatedly peak in warm, summer months and drop in the winter every year.

    "This is the first time we've seen something repeatable in the methane story, so it offers us a handle in understanding it," said Chris Webster of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, lead author of the second paper. "This is all possible because of Curiosity's longevity. The long duration has allowed us to see the patterns in this seasonal 'breathing.'"



    Finding Organic Molecules

    To identify organic material in the Martian soil, Curiosity drilled into sedimentary rocks known as mudstone from four areas in Gale Crater. This mudstone gradually formed billions of years ago from silt that accumulated at the bottom of the ancient lake. The rock samples were analyzed by SAM, which uses an oven to heat the samples (in excess of 900 degrees Fahrenheit, or 500 degrees Celsius) to release organic molecules from the powdered rock.

    SAM measured small organic molecules that came off the mudstone sample – fragments of larger organic molecules that don’t vaporize easily. Some of these fragments contain sulfur, which could have helped preserve them in the same way sulfur is used to make car tires more durable, according to Eigenbrode.

    The results also indicate organic carbon concentrations on the order of 10 parts per million or more. This is close to the amount observed in Martian meteorites and about 100 times greater than prior detections of organic carbon on Mars’ surface. Some of the molecules identified include thiophenes, benzene, toluene, and small carbon chains, such as propane or butene.

    In 2013, SAM detected some organic molecules containing chlorine in rocks at the deepest point in the crater. This new discovery builds on the inventory of molecules detected in the ancient lake sediments on Mars and helps explains why they were preserved.

    Finding methane in the atmosphere and ancient carbon preserved on the surface gives scientists confidence that NASA's Mars 2020 rover and ESA’s (European Space Agency's) ExoMars rover will find even more organics, both on the surface and in the shallow subsurface.

    These results also inform scientists’ decisions as they work to find answers to questions concerning the possibility of life on Mars.

    “Are there signs of life on Mars?” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, at NASA Headquarters. “We don’t know, but these results tell us we are on the right track.”

    This work was funded by NASA's Mars Exploration Program for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in Washington. Goddard provided the SAM instrument. JPL built the rover and manages the project for SMD.

    For video and images of the findings, visit:


    Information on NASA’s Mars activities is available online at:



    Source: NASA
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    Wow, I posted the above now well over twelve hours ago. Saying that the response has been underwhelming would be a ludicrous understatement, as so far only three people have actually even looked at this thread, and that includes yours truly.

    One would expect such groundbreaking news to garner at least a little more attention from a so-called alternative community where people claim to be interested in the existence of extraterrestrial life. Not that this discovery confirms the existence of life on other worlds, but it certainly exponentially increases the chances that there would actually still be life on Mars today, in spite of the fact that it's a barren wasteland that has lost its magnetosphere.

    Considering that this is coming straight from NASA itself, it's also a significant step in the right direction after years of ridiculing anyone who even dared suggest that Earth is not the only celestial body where life as it is known here on Earth could have developed.
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    I hear you. I think this is really interesting.


    From the Guardian:
    The discovery is the most compelling evidence yet that long before the planet became the parched world it is today, Martian lakes were a rich soup of carbon-based compounds that are necessary for life, at least as we know it.
    From Science:
    Slow seepage from an underground reservoir could explain both the seasonal cycle and the spikes, Webster says. Surface rocks could mostly hold on to the methane in winter and release it when warmed by the summer sun. Occasionally, something in the rocks could break loose, releasing larger spurts. Similar scenarios are found on Earth.
    In the other new paper, astrobiologist Jennifer Eigenbrode of NASA Goddard and colleagues analyzed samples collected from 3.5-billion-year-old mudstone that was once part of an ancient lake and found chemical evidence that plenty of organic molecules had been preserved in the lake bed.

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    ...wow I find your manner of expectation of response to be quite something! It comes across as grumpy. Forgive me if that is not the intention in the wording.

    Personally, I saw it elsewhere, and didn't see your thread. But other than that, it's only really vaguely interesting to me anyway! I already am fine with believing that space has life, I don't really care if people do or don't believe that or if NASA has to endorse it! I would rather they spent the money feeding the starving and housing the homeless back on Earth.

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    Quote Originally posted by enjoy being View Post
    ...wow I find your manner of expectation of response to be quite something! It comes across as grumpy. Forgive me if that is not the intention in the wording.
    My reaction is what it is. It is shocking to see how few of our members have actually bothered to look at this thread, while this topic should normally be of a major interest to them.

    Quote Originally posted by enjoy being View Post
    Personally, I saw it elsewhere, and didn't see your thread. But other than that, it's only really vaguely interesting to me anyway! I already am fine with believing that space has life, I don't really care if people do or don't believe that or if NASA has to endorse it! I would rather they spent the money feeding the starving and housing the homeless back on Earth.
    I'm quite sure that the US taxpayer money spent on NASA would only be peanuts next to the budgets allotted to the military-industrial complex, both in waging wars and in creating autonomous, A.I.-driven killer machines. And NASA is an exclusively US American organization — granted, the European Space Agency is working together with them — while just about every western nation has committed themselves to fighting the enemies designated (and in some cases secretly funded) by the US empire.

    That said, that rover has been on Mars for quite some time now, and its mission has been greatly extended — it would normally already long have been decommissioned by now. Compare that to the exuberantly high cost of a set of very short-lived air-to-air, ground-to-air or air-to-ground missiles, not to mention that the people who are killed by those missiles can't even worry about having food on their table anymore.

    Besides, we all know why there is poverty. All you have to do is look at the salaries of the bankers, the corporate CEOs and the politicians. They reap up more cash in one month than people like me have to survive off for a whole year.
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    Some of the media reports are strongly linking the methane with life - past or present.

    The actual original NASA story is much more circumspect, suggesting geological non-organic origin, external meteoric origin and/or possibly present or past organic origin.

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    Quote Originally posted by Barbarella View Post
    Some of the media reports are strongly linking the methane with life - past or present.

    The actual original NASA story is much more circumspect, suggesting geological non-organic origin, external meteoric origin and/or possibly present or past organic origin.
    Indeed, it is not a confirmation of life — past or present — but the fact that it could be a sign of life is certainly interesting enough to warrant further investigation, in my opinion.
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    Quote Originally posted by Aragorn View Post
    My reaction is what it is. It is shocking to see how few of our members have actually bothered to look at this thread, while this topic should normally be of a major interest to them.



    I'm quite sure that the US taxpayer money spent on NASA would only be peanuts next to the budgets allotted to the military-industrial complex, both in waging wars and in creating autonomous, A.I.-driven killer machines. And NASA is an exclusively US American organization — granted, the European Space Agency is working together with them — while just about every western nation has committed themselves to fighting the enemies designated (and in some cases secretly funded) by the US empire.

    That said, that rover has been on Mars for quite some time now, and its mission has been greatly extended — it would normally already long have been decommissioned by now. Compare that to the exuberantly high cost of a set of very short-lived air-to-air, ground-to-air or air-to-ground missiles, not to mention that the people who are killed by those missiles can't even worry about having food on their table anymore.

    Besides, we all know why there is poverty. All you have to do is look at the salaries of the bankers, the corporate CEOs and the politicians. They reap up more cash in one month than people like me have to survive off for a whole year.
    Superfluous to all the other places money is wasted, my unobfuscated opinion still stands. Not that it was ever up for rebuke from you. I have made my opinion on space exploration several times here anyway and know full well yours is quite contrary to that.
    Stating my disagreement again does not mean I exclude other inequities existing in the world, it just means, I would rather the money was spent on some other thing more useful.

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    Quote Originally posted by enjoy being View Post
    [...] my unobfuscated opinion still stands. Not that it was ever up for rebuke from you.
    I wasn't trying to rebuke your opinion. You criticized my comment regarding the abysmal degree of attention given to this thread by a community that professes to be interested in exactly this kind of topics, and I only offered further explanation with the comment that you had criticized.

    Quote Originally posted by enjoy being View Post
    I have made my opinion on space exploration several times here anyway and know full well yours is quite contrary to that. [...]
    And neither your opinion nor mine matter in this case, because that rover has already been up there for quite some time — and by the way, the trip from Earth to Mars alone already took over 500 days — and they didn't ask for the consent of either of us when they sent that thing off into space. But now that it is there, it might as well continue examining the Martian soil and atmosphere, so that science at least gets some answers in return for the tax money that was spent on this mission.

    Furthermore, whether you agree with man going out into space or not is also moot. That rover is not a man but a semi-autonomous robot, and it has detected things which could — emphasis on "could" — be signs of life on another world.

    And if the robot does find life on Mars, then that alone already has very strong implications regarding how mankind sees itself in the universe, because then there would be irrefutable evidence that we are not unique. In addition to that, it could also serve as circumstantial evidence that all those reports of alien visitations and abductions might actually have truth to them, whereas up until now, any reports thereof have always been categorically ridiculed, both by scientists and by the mainstream media. Lastly, such a discovery would certainly have its implications for Earth's various religions as well.

    Either way, you're only shooting at the messenger.
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    Quote Originally posted by Aragorn View Post
    Source: NASA



    This low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the site from which it reached down to drill into a rock target called "Buckskin" on lower Mount Sharp. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)



    NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet’s surface and subsurface.

    The new findings – “tough” organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere – appear in the June 8 edition of the journal Science.

    Organic molecules contain carbon and hydrogen, and also may include oxygen, nitrogen and other elements. While commonly associated with life, organic molecules also can be created by non-biological processes and are not necessarily indicators of life.

    “With these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and keep searching for evidence of life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in Washington. “I’m confident that our ongoing and planned missions will unlock even more breathtaking discoveries on the Red Planet.”

    “Curiosity has not determined the source of the organic molecules,” said Jen Eigenbrode of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who is lead author of one of the two new Science papers. “Whether it holds a record of ancient life, was food for life, or has existed in the absence of life, organic matter in Martian materials holds chemical clues to planetary conditions and processes.”

    Although the surface of Mars is inhospitable today, there is clear evidence that in the distant past, the Martian climate allowed liquid water – an essential ingredient for life as we know it – to pool at the surface. Data from Curiosity reveal that billions of years ago, a water lake inside Gale Crater held all the ingredients necessary for life, including chemical building blocks and energy sources.

    “The Martian surface is exposed to radiation from space. Both radiation and harsh chemicals break down organic matter,” said Eigenbrode. “Finding ancient organic molecules in the top five centimeters of rock that was deposited when Mars may have been habitable, bodes well for us to learn the story of organic molecules on Mars with future missions that will drill deeper.”



    Seasonal Methane Releases

    In the second paper, scientists describe the discovery of seasonal variations in methane in the Martian atmosphere over the course of nearly three Mars years, which is almost six Earth years. This variation was detected by Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite.

    Water-rock chemistry might have generated the methane, but scientists cannot rule out the possibility of biological origins. Methane previously had been detected in Mars' atmosphere in large, unpredictable plumes. This new result shows that low levels of methane within Gale Crater repeatedly peak in warm, summer months and drop in the winter every year.

    "This is the first time we've seen something repeatable in the methane story, so it offers us a handle in understanding it," said Chris Webster of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, lead author of the second paper. "This is all possible because of Curiosity's longevity. The long duration has allowed us to see the patterns in this seasonal 'breathing.'"



    Finding Organic Molecules

    To identify organic material in the Martian soil, Curiosity drilled into sedimentary rocks known as mudstone from four areas in Gale Crater. This mudstone gradually formed billions of years ago from silt that accumulated at the bottom of the ancient lake. The rock samples were analyzed by SAM, which uses an oven to heat the samples (in excess of 900 degrees Fahrenheit, or 500 degrees Celsius) to release organic molecules from the powdered rock.

    SAM measured small organic molecules that came off the mudstone sample – fragments of larger organic molecules that don’t vaporize easily. Some of these fragments contain sulfur, which could have helped preserve them in the same way sulfur is used to make car tires more durable, according to Eigenbrode.

    The results also indicate organic carbon concentrations on the order of 10 parts per million or more. This is close to the amount observed in Martian meteorites and about 100 times greater than prior detections of organic carbon on Mars’ surface. Some of the molecules identified include thiophenes, benzene, toluene, and small carbon chains, such as propane or butene.

    In 2013, SAM detected some organic molecules containing chlorine in rocks at the deepest point in the crater. This new discovery builds on the inventory of molecules detected in the ancient lake sediments on Mars and helps explains why they were preserved.

    Finding methane in the atmosphere and ancient carbon preserved on the surface gives scientists confidence that NASA's Mars 2020 rover and ESA’s (European Space Agency's) ExoMars rover will find even more organics, both on the surface and in the shallow subsurface.

    These results also inform scientists’ decisions as they work to find answers to questions concerning the possibility of life on Mars.

    “Are there signs of life on Mars?” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, at NASA Headquarters. “We don’t know, but these results tell us we are on the right track.”

    This work was funded by NASA's Mars Exploration Program for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in Washington. Goddard provided the SAM instrument. JPL built the rover and manages the project for SMD.

    For video and images of the findings, visit:


    Information on NASA’s Mars activities is available online at:



    Source: NASA
    I'm thinking the guy that devised the original tests (gawd knows how many years ago) is really going to pissed when they determine in the positive for martian life. (if he's still alive when it is considered confirmed)
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    Fallacy abound.
    I criticised the manner in which you 'bumped' the thread by climbing right into making provocative claims, calling this very small community out. The "so-called alternative" and attempting to state we all "profess to be interested in extra-terrestrial life" etc.

    No matter, this is as much about the regular tone of condescension I pick up from the way you talk to/about people at times, and I was choosing to push back on it here, as I have said nothing plenty of times and felt it was time to stop enabling it by being silent. Being that I have no qualms about speaking my mind. With due respect, so far from you in the time I have been here, I have been accused of being high on dope because I listen to reggae music, having ADHD, and a few other quips I can't immediately recall. I personally find it offensive when it happens, but usually make allowances but it seems to just continue.


    As for the extension on space exploration.. more fallacy and I never used the word 'man', that is your choice to find an angle to, well, state the obvious. My opinion already outlined, and paraphrased is that I don't care about who does or doesn't believe in the existence of life forms in the universe. I'm not interested in rover this or probe that or what implications that can be drawn if one wants to!

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    Quote Originally posted by enjoy being View Post
    Fallacy abound.
    Yes, but with yourself only, not with me.

    Quote Originally posted by enjoy being View Post
    I criticised the manner in which you 'bumped' the thread by climbing right into making provocative claims, calling this very small community out. The "so-called alternative" and attempting to state we all "profess to be interested in extra-terrestrial life" etc.
    That was not intended as a thread bump. There's no point in bumping a thread that nobody has looked at yet, because for all those who haven't looked at it yet, it'll still appear as an unread thread in the "Unread Posts", "This Week's Posts" and "Latest Threads" listings. Unless of course they've marked all threads as read, but not too many of our members use that function.

    I therefore repeat that my comment in post #2 is merely what it is, and not what you chose to make of it.

    Quote Originally posted by enjoy being View Post
    No matter, this is as much about the regular tone of condescension I pick up from the way you talk to/about people at times, and I was choosing to push back on it here, as I have said nothing plenty of times and felt it was time to stop enabling it by being silent.
    Pot - kettle - black.

    Quote Originally posted by enjoy being View Post
    Being that I have no qualms about speaking my mind.
    My point exactly. So you're allowed to speak your mind and be offensive, but I'm not?

    Quote Originally posted by enjoy being View Post
    With due respect, so far from you in the time I have been here, I have been accused of being high on dope because I listen to reggae music, having ADHD, and a few other quips I can't immediately recall.
    I have never stated that you were "high on dope", but I do distinctly recall having made a joke about rastafari musicians, because for them, ganja is part of their religious experience, and so they all use it.

    I also do not believe that I have ever posited that you would be afflicted with ADHD. I have stated this about others, yes, because they actually do have ADHD — they have stated so themselves.

    Given what you've just written however, I might be tempted to ascribe you with paranoid delusions. You can take that for whatever it's worth.

    Quote Originally posted by enjoy being View Post
    I personally find it offensive when it happens, but usually make allowances but it seems to just continue.
    Well, I for one find several of your comments offensive as well, and not just toward myself but also toward other members. And I haven't said anything about that yet either — or at least, not out on the open forum — because I did not want to offend you.

    Quote Originally posted by enjoy being View Post
    As for the extension on space exploration.. more fallacy and I never used the word 'man', that is your choice to find an angle to, well, state the obvious. My opinion already outlined, and paraphrased is that I don't care about who does or doesn't believe in the existence of life forms in the universe.
    Sure bud. So enjoy being doesn't care about space exploration, and therefore I should stop posting anything about space exploration here at The One Truth, and NASA should immediately stop monitoring the data coming from that rover. All because you don't care for it.

    Well, boy have I got news for you: you are not the only human being on this planet. Others are interested in this stuff, and like I said, it doesn't matter whether I approve of space exploration or not, but that thing has been on its way over to Mars for over 500 days, and it has since then been rolling around on the surface of Mars for almost six years already now.

    It is up there. It is not consuming any energy from Earth. It doesn't cost anyone any money to send it up there because it is up there. And now that the damn thing is finally starting to transmit some interesting data back to Earth, we should pretend that it doesn't exist because enjoy being isn't interested and opposes space exploration?

    Quote Originally posted by enjoy being View Post
    I'm not interested in rover this or probe that or what implications that can be drawn if one wants to!
    Like I said, you're not the only human being on this planet. I don't care much for soccer games either, but at least I don't go about chastising all the people who do care about soccer and who go see the games on Sunday, or who watch them on TV.

    You can have all the freedom you want. Just remember that your freedom ends where somebody else's freedom begins.
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    I rest my case.

    Oh well cant help point things out to people that don't want to see them and deflect. Another one bites the dust eh I guess, as I am almost done with this site.

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  27. #14
    Administrator Aragorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by enjoy being View Post
    I rest my case.

    Oh well cant help point things out to people that don't want to see them and deflect. Another one bites the dust eh I guess, as I am almost done with this site.







    = DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR =

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    Quote Originally posted by Aragorn View Post
    Ahem, we seem to have come quite a long way from talking about predatory worms, which, if any of you remember, is what this thread was originally about...




    Strong in this one, the attention deficit disorder is.





    Quote Originally posted by Aragorn View Post
    I saw him live in Antwerp in February 1993 — actually, exactly 25 years ago on this very day — when he was touring to promote his "The Extremist" album. I don't know who the keyboard player was — there was no rhythm guitarist — but he had the Bisonette brothers with him on drums and bass.







    Yabbut, where eez da video, maan? You been smokin' too much ganja, ayah?

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