QJScience: Did life begin on Mars?

Recent evidence suggests that perhaps we’re more closely related to E.T. than we might have previously thought.

A meteorite from Mars was recently found on Earth and was determined to contain chemicals that are believed to be involved in the formation of RNA. The fundamental and universal component of all life forms is DNA, which is created from RNA, implying that perhaps Mars provided Earth with the raw ingredient to sustain life.

The general hypothesis is that an explosion occurred on Mars which blasted RNA-containing parts of the planet into outer space. Eventually, these materials congregated and formed a meteorite which collided with Earth and incorporated RNA into our planet.

At the annual Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Florence last week, scientists indicated that Earth wouldn’t have had a suitable environment to house the minerals necessary for the formation of RNA. Mars had a substantially more preferable atmosphere for these minerals, so it appears more likely that RNA would have originated on Mars rather than on Earth.

Bob McDonald, a science journalist from the CBC says this is the first time scientists have chemical evidence for the long-standing hypothesis that life initially arose on Mars. However, he believes the only way that we can conclusively prove this theory is through the discovery of fossils or actual life on Mars.

As fascinating as this discovery is, further exciting news about Mars has been revealed from the space rover named Curiosity, which just celebrated its first anniversary on the red planet in early August.

Four significant revelations have been made from Curiosity’s journey, which NASA plans to prolong for another year:

1. Curiosity found evidence that fresh water was once present on Mars. In addition to this, certain rock types were found that are known to form only when water flows about knee deep. This suggests that a body of water must have been flowing for a prolonged period of time to allow for the formation of these rocks.

2. A diverse array of rocks has been found, suggesting that different physical and chemical environments have existed there throughout time.

3. A lack of methane was detected. Methane is a gas associated with biological activity, so a lack thereof may indicate that the conditions on this planet are currently too harsh for life to exist.

4. On its trip to Mars within a spacecraft capsule, Curiosity was exposed to more radiation than NASA astronauts are permitted to being exposed to in their entire career. This suggests that having a human walk on the red planet may be harder than it seems!

Watch more about this exciting new discovery here: http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/TV+Shows/The+National/ID/2403589150/


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