Possible organic compounds found in Mars crater rocks
Jezero crater. Credit: NASA

There are rocks at the bottom of Jezero Crater on Mars that interact with liquid water. Evidence is consistent with the presence of organic compounds.

The existence of organic compounds is not proof of life as they can be created through nonbiological processes. The samples need to be returned to Earth to determine this.

The study was led by researchers at Caltech.

Professor Mark Sephton, from the Department of Earth Science & Engineering at Imperial, is a member of the science team who took part in rover operations on Mars. He hopes that one day these samples can be returned to Earth so that we can look at the evidence of water and possible organic matter on Mars.

Water is moving.

The organic compounds were found at Jezero'sDelta. Deltas are formed at the intersection of a river and a lake.

Mission scientists were interested in the Jezero Delta because of its ability to preserve organisms. Deltas are created when a river enters a body of water that's slower moving. As the river water spreads out, it slows down, depositing the silt it is carrying and trapping any organisms that may be in the water.

The crater floor where the rover landed was a mystery. The researchers expected to find rocks in the lake bed because of the water deposits. Some researchers were surprised to find minerals on the crater floor that were related to contact with water, when the rover came down there.

Water is needed to circulate in the rocks, carving out niches and depositing dissolved minerals in different places. Evidence for organics can be found in some places.

SherLOC discovered it.

The minerals and possible organic compounds were found using the SHERLOC instrument.

Mounted on the rover's robotic arm, SHERLOC has a number of tools that can be used to look for organic compounds and see how they are distributed in a material.

The ability to decipher the time-ordering of Mars's past environments has been blown open by the use of SHERLOC.

Several samples of the water-altered igneous rocks were taken by the rover as it rolled towards the delta. The samples would need to be returned to Earth in order to determine if they have anything to do with life.

Aqueous alterations in Jezero crater are studied by Eva L. Scheller and her team. There is a science.abo5204

Journal information: Science