Monday, 28 May 2012

Mars 'has life's building blocks'

New evidence from meteorites suggests that the basic building blocks of life are present on Mars.
The study found that carbon present in 10 meteorites, spanning more than four billion years of Martian history, came from the planet and was not the result of contamination on Earth.
Details of the work have been published in the journal Science.
But the research also shows the Martian carbon did not come from life forms.
A team of scientists based at the Carnegie Institution for Science, based in Washington DC, found "reduced carbon" in the meteorites and says it was created by volcanic activity on Mars.
Reduced carbon is carbon that is chemically bonded to hydrogen or itself.
They argue this is evidence "that Mars has been undertaking organic chemistry for most of its history."
The team's leader Dr Andrew Steele told BBC News: "For about the last 40 years we have been looking for a pool of what is called 'reduced carbon' on Mars, trying to find where it is, if it's there, asking "does it exist?"
"Without carbon, the building blocks of life cannot exist... So it is reduced carbon that, with hydrogen, with oxygen, with nitrogen make up the organic molecules of life."

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