In a Martian meteorite discovered an ancient organic molecules

In the Martian meteorite Allan Hills 84001, found in 1984 in Antarctica, the Japanese scientists were able to discover the ancient nitrogen-containing organic molecules. This means that early Mars organics existed, listed by meteorites or formed directly on the planet. Article published in Nature Communications.

The question of the existence of life on Mars is studied in detail for many decades. The presence of Martian rocks organic substances affirmed as the study of automatic stations on the surface of the planet, and the analysis of meteorites of Martian origin found on Earth. Harmattan on Mars was discovered more missions spacecraft “Viking”, and the NASA Rover “Curiosity” found sulphurous and chlorinated hydrocarbons in sediments from Gale crater by the age of 3.5 billion years. And in the meteorite Allan Hills 84001 sample igneous rocks Maiskogo period — scientists have found organic compounds. However, the origin, distribution, preservation and evolution of these organic substances as well as on their possible relation to biological activity on Mars, yet little is known.

So far in the Martian meteorites was not trying to find the nitrogen compounds. Their search was not carried out due to technical difficulties: it was believed that it is impossible to achieve the necessary purity of the experiment, as the meteorites are inevitably contaminated by organic matter of terrestrial origin. This problem is typical even for the Allan Hills 84001, which until its discovery he spent many years in Antarctic ice.

Mizuho Bed (Mizuho Koike) Institute of space and Astronautical science of JAXA and her colleagues have developed a new method of analysis, which allowed to find the meteorite nitrogen-containing compounds. Allan Hills 84001 contains orange fine-grained formation of carbonate minerals, precipitated from near-surface Martian water approximately 3.9–4,04 billion years ago. Using a silver double-sided sticky tape, the researchers extracted a few grains of such minerals with a size of about 50 micrometers and irradiated samples of x-rays, after analysis by XANES spectroscopy production near threshold structure of the spectrum of x-ray absorption, which helps identify substances by measuring the energy with which they absorb radiation. To exclude contamination of samples with earthly substances, all experiments were performed in a clean laboratory. In the end, in carbonate grains were indeed discovered nitrogen that is part of the organic molecules. The authors believe that these substances are likely to have formed on Mars or been brought to the surface of the planet with meteorites.

However, regardless of their origin, the presence of nitrogen-containing organics on Mars Maiskogo period indicates the importance of studying the nitrogen cycle on this planet. If organic matter in a significant number and variety of formation was recorded on Mars and have survived in its surface layers throughout the geological eras, this matter had a chance to evolve into more complex forms. Closer to understanding this process will help further careful studies of Martian meteorites, as well as the mission that includes taking samples of soil on Mars and its satellites.

Scientists from brown University, previously came to the conclusionthat ancient Mars had enough hydrogen to sustain life underground for hundreds of millions of years. We also talked about how astronomers have calculatedthat the period of the potential habitability of Mars was about 700 million years.

Eugene Skarednov

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