Is There Organic Matter on Mars?

Press release of the University of Heidelberg

November 13, 2014

Chloromethane discovered on the "Red Planet" possibly comes from the Martian soil – meteorites probably provided its carbon and hydrogen

Scanning electron microscope image of a micrometeorite. These micrometeorites were collected on Earth (Antarctica). It is assumed that every year a large amount of micrometeorites of similar composition falls on Mars. When heated, a fraction of the organic matter might be converted to chloromethane.

Organic matter recently detected by NASA’s robotic rover “Curiosity” is probably not due to contamination brought from Earth as researchers originally thought. A team of German and British scientists led by geoscientist Prof. Dr. Frank Keppler from Heidelberg University now suggests that the gaseous chlorinated organic compound – chloromethane – recently found on the “Red Planet” most likely comes from the soil of Mars, with its carbon and hydrogen probably deriving from meteorites that fell on the planet’s surface. This assumption is supported by isotope measurements made by the scientists in which they replicated some of the Mars lander experiments. In these investigations, samples from a 4.6 billion old meteorite that fell in Australia in 1969 were used. Results from this study have been published in “Scientific Reports”.

(...) full press release

Go to Editor View