(From USA Today)
The “building blocks” for life have been discovered in 3-billion-year-old organic matter on Mars, NASA scientists announced Thursday.
Researchers cannot yet say whether their discovery stems from life or a more mundane geological process. However, “we’re in a really good position to move forward looking for signs of life,” said Jennifer Eigenbrode, a NASA biogeochemist and lead author of a study published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science.
The findings were also remarkable in that they showed that organic material can be preserved for billions of years on the harsh Martian surface. ..
…”The detection of organic molecules and methane on Mars has far-ranging implications in light of potential past life on Mars,” said Inge Loes ten Kate, a Utrecht University scientist in an accompanying article in Science. “Curiosity has shown that Gale Crater was habitable around 3.5 billion years ago, with conditions comparable to those on the early Earth, where life evolved around that time.