(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of scientists reported the discovery of a wide variety of organic compounds in the Martian meteorite Tissint, which hit Earth just over 11 years ago.
This is the fifth meteorite that has arrived from Mars, and far from the first in which organics are found.
Mars and Earth have much in common in their evolutionary history.
Although life, apparently, developed only on our planet, the question of the possibility of the existence of Martian life forms in the distant past or even today is actively studied by both people on Earth and rovers and orbital stations on Mars.
Organic molecules (virtually any chemical compound that includes carbon atoms bonded to atoms of other elements) and water are key factors in the potential development of carbon-based life forms that we know of.
Both have been discovered on Mars for a long time.
Moreover, scientists have proposed a number of potentially habitable zones, deep in the Martian interior, quite suitable for the simplest microbial life.
That is why every Martian meteorite that hits Earth is carefully analyzed by specialists to identify all organic compounds in its composition and their possible connection with extraterrestrial life.
So, ALH 84001 gained great fame in 1996 due to the fact that organics and even “fossils of nanoorganisms” were found in it, which were later recognized as structures of an abiogenic nature.
In a new study, an international team of scientists studied the chemical composition of the Tissint meteorite that fell in Morocco on July 18, 2011.
Tissint is the last of five Martian meteorites observed since 1815. It was ejected from the surface of the Red Planet about a million years ago as a result of one of the most powerful impact events known today.
Nevertheless, researchers were able to detect an incredible variety of organic compounds in its composition – more than in any other previously found Martian meteorites or in any sample analyzed by the rover.
“Understanding the processes and sequence of events that shaped this abundance of organics will reveal new details about the habitability of Mars and potentially about the reactions that could lead to its formation,” commented the paper’s last author, Andrew Steele of the Carnegie Institution and member of the scientific teams of the Perseverance and Curiosity rovers.
Among the extensive list of organic substances, including branched carboxylic acids and aldehydes, olefins and polyaromatic compounds with and without heteroatoms, the abundance of organomagnesium compounds aroused particular interest of researchers.
Such a set of organics, not previously found in Martian samples, reveals new details of the geochemical processes that took place in the mantle and crust of the Red Planet and formed its bowels.
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