While the Red Planet may appear as a barren waste, it is now believed by scientists that at some point in the planet’s history, Mars did indeed support life and somewhere beneath the detritus of the red dirt, it still does.
According to a new research, several meteorite samples from Mars have revealed that the Red Planet has the so-called "building blocks" of life, suggesting that there possibly was life at some point in Mars’ history.
According to the new study, conducted by researchers from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington D.C. and published in the journal, Science, the researchers found carbon, an essential ingredient in all life, in more than 10 meteoritic samples spanning a period of more than 4 billion years of Martian history, though the researchers did add that the carbon itself did not come from "life forms," but may have been spewed out by volcanoes.
Speaking to the BBC, team leader for the project, Dr. Andrew Steele, said, “For about the last 40 years we have been looking for a pool of what is called 'reduced carbon' on Mars, trying to find where it is, if it's there, asking "does it exist? Without carbon, the building blocks of life cannot exist... So it is reduced carbon that, with hydrogen, with oxygen, with nitrogen make up the organic molecules of life."
Dr. Steele then added that his team’s present research had been able to answer the question of "reduced carbon." "This research shows, yes - it does exist on Mars and now we are moving to the next set of questions. What happened to it, what was its fate, did it take the next step of creating life on Mars?" said Dr. Steele.
Reduced Carbon itself is a form of carbon that has been chemically bonded to hydrogen or itself and evidence of it suggests, as the researchers say, that “Mars has been undertaking organic chemistry for most of its history."
With NASA's latest probe, Curiosity, presently on its way to Mars, Dr. Steele is hopeful for more answers. "The question 'are we alone' has been a big driver of science but it relates back to our own origins on this planet. If there is no life on Mars why? It allow us to make a more informed hypothesis about why life is here," Dr. Steele said.