Spectroscopy used to search for life on Mars can probe deeper deposits

(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of researchers has concluded that despite the hostile environmental conditions on Mars, the equipment used by rovers on the planet’s surface should be able to detect possible signs of life.

In an article published in the journal Science Advances, the scientists describe how they subjected the samples to Martian-like conditions and then tested them.

Despite many tests of rovers sent to Mars to study the planet, no evidence has yet been found that life ever existed on the Red Planet.

The researchers suggested that either it had never been on Mars, or the technology used by the rovers was not up to the task. The researchers conducted an experiment to test the latest theory.

The team’s work involved collecting samples from a variety of natural environments, including molecules that most scientists believe are essential for life to exist. Examples include chlorophyllin, melanin and chitin.

The researchers placed the samples in a suitable container and then attached it to an outer wall on the ISS, an environment similar to that found on Mars, where extreme temperature changes regularly occur and exposure to radiation is constant.

When packing the samples, the researchers tried to mimic Martian soil using regolith. The samples were left on the outside of the space station for 469 days before being carefully retrieved.

When testing the samples using Raman spectroscopy, a technology used by the rovers, they found no sign of life in the upper soil layers or in the layers below.

However, they found the signs they were looking for by digging a little deeper. The researchers suggest that this indicates that if signs of life exist below the surface of Mars, rovers should be able to detect them.


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