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Study shows difficulty in finding evidence of life on Mars



Study shows difficulty in finding evidence of life on Mars

NASA’s Perseverance rover, shown in this artistic rendering, will land at Mars’ Jezero Crater in February 2021 and will start gathering soil samples soon after that. Scientists are now concerned about acidic fluids, once on Mars, may have ruined the evidence of life contained in the clays. Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech/Provided In a little more than a decade, samples of rover-scooped Martian soil will rocket to Earth.

While scientists are eager to study the red planet’s soils for signs of life , researchers must ponder a considerable new challenge: Acidic fluids—which once flowed on the Martian surface—may have destroyed biological evidence hidden within Mars’ iron-rich clays, according to researchers at Cornell University and at Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología.

The researchers conducted simulations involving clay and amino acids to draw conclusions regarding the likely degradation of biological material on Mars. Their paper, “Constraining the Preservation of Organic Compounds in Mars Analog Nontronites After Exposure to Acid and Alkaline Fluids,” published Sept. 15 in Nature Scientific Reports .

Alberto G. Fairén, a visiting scientist in the Department of Astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell, is a corresponding author.

NASA’s Perseverance rover, launched July 30, will land at Mars’ Jezero Crater next February; the […]

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