A team of researchers tested Martian dirt first collected by NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover in March 2017. They directed the rover to mix it with chemical agents inside a cup.
Inverse reports that this mixture released organic molecules that NASA had never seen on Mars' surface.
Although it is an exciting discovery, this does not prove that lifeforms based on carbon existed once upon the Red Planet's surface. However, it is a significant step in the right direction.
Mava Millan (postdoctoral fellow at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center) said that the experiment was definitely successful. She is also the lead author of a new study, published in Nature Astronomy on Monday.
Although we didn't find what we wanted, biosignatures were not the right technique, she said.
Millan and her colleagues concluded that the experiment had expanded the Martian sample inventory and provided a powerful tool for further enabling the search for polar organic compounds of biotic and prebiotic relevance.
Two chemicals that were most prominently present in the mixture were ammonia and benzoic acid, which could indicate ancient life.
Millan explained to Inverse that one of the things we were trying [when searching] for organic molecule on Mars was to understand Mars' past habitability and to search for bioindicators.
Now, the team wants to discover their parents molecules or where they came. Millan and her colleagues suggest that they might be the result geological processes in their paper.
Curiosity has already detected organic molecules in Martian soil before, but this new discovery expands the number of organic molecules that NASA has found.
After analyzing Curiosity samples, an international team made the discovery.
Researchers suggested that Mars' ancient life could be represented by the thiophenes in March 2020. However, more research is needed.
Millan and her colleagues hope NASA's Perseverance Rover will provide more insight into organic molecules.
READ MORE: NASA has just discovered these organic molecules on Mars [Inverse]
More on Curiosity: NASA's Mars Rover is on the Site Of Ancient Ponds, Not a Huge Lake
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