Detecting life on Mars may be ‘impossible’ with current NASA rovers, new study warns End-shutdown

The current generation of Mars rovers may have trouble confirming any signs of ancient life on the Red Planet because their scientific instruments aren’t up to scratch, according to research published February 21 in the journal. nature communications (opens in a new tab).

In the study, the researchers conducted tests on sedimentary rocks in the Red Stone region of Chile’s Atacama Desert, one of the oldest and driest deserts on Earth and a geologic analogue of ancient sites on Mars that two NASA rovers found. are currently exploring. The same team of researchers previously discovered that the Red Stone clays are inhabited by a previously unknown mix of ancient and modern microorganisms dubbed the “dark microbiome.”

Using four instruments that are on current or future Mars rovers, the team studied Red Stone samples and found them incapable of detecting organic material. Only genetic sequencing, a procedure that can only be done in a laboratory on Earth, was able to find evidence of microbial life in the samples, but even then, it was barely detectable.

Scientists searched for microbial life in the Atacama Desert in Chile (right) to study how current scientific instruments might work on Mars (left). (Image credit: Mars photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Atacama photo: Armando Azua-Bustos/Provided)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *