Scientists have tested Martian soil for the presence of an organic compound, which could prove that life once existed on Mars, but failed miserably found no traces of organic compounds in Martian soil. However, a new research paper published by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab states that a new experiment to detect amino acids on the red planet can solve the problem and help scientists find traces of life on Mars.
Previously, NASA scientists looked for organic compounds in Marble soil (regolith) samples taken from Phoenix Mars lander but found none. However, chemical analysis revealed that there is almost one percent of perchlorate (ClO4), which is a highly reactive chemical known to burn organic substances, and therefore organic compounds are present in the sample.
To solve the problem, scientists must design a new tool from Ground Zero and send it to the next Mars lander. Dr. Aaron Noell of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) believes he has a solution to the problem. He suggested that subcritical water extraction (SCWE ̵
"SCWE sounds more complicated than it is," Noell said. "We jokingly call it Mars Espresso because basically hot high pressure water is added to the soil sample, pyrolysis is a very good technique for many compounds, but amino acids are preferably soluble in water."
For the effectiveness of the SCWE technique To test, Noell used three different soil samples (a Mars-1A simulant, an Atacama desert soil), and an Antarctic Dry Valley's soil). Together with his team, Noell tested the SCWE technology at three different temperatures of 185, 200 and 215 degrees Celsius. He also varied the time of exposure to the heat, which varied from ten minutes to two hours. The researchers were amazed to find the high yields of native amino acids even in the presence of perchlorate salt.
"With some improvements, SCWE would offer many benefits to a space mission," said Samuel Kounaves, professor of chemistry at Tufts University and senior scientist for the Wet Chemistry Lab on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander.
Noell believes the SCWE is a revolutionary technique that can redefine future Mars missions. "Amino acids have long been the primary targets of the astrobiology community," he says. "We want to go ahead and get started … long-chain fatty acids, and possibly even some of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, which are large molecules of hydrogen and carbon atoms) that are normally not soluble in water, but that start SCWE's high temperatures
It is striking that with the help of SCWE, scientists are not only able to determine the presence of amino acids, but also the source from which amino acids are derived, which in turn provides clues to the existence of life against the building blocks for the plant Life. "When molecules of greater complexity are more easily found, scientists can begin to determine whether past life, present life, or an abiotic Mars process is the most likely culprit," Noell added.
NASA scientists are excited to test the technology hopefully that they will find traces of past life on Mars that would be the largest discovery in human history.