“Where life can grow, it will grow”

rocks that contain organic molecules were found on Mars, nasa announced September 15, 2022. Although it is not the first time such a discovery has been made, this time it is encouraging: the rock comes from a different site, where an ancient river delta was located. A more favorable environment for biosignatures. Could this finally be the proof of alien life we’ve been waiting for? Can be. But it is highly unlikely, according to Caroline Freissinet, an astrochemist at the CNRS, who is involved in the Exomars 2020 program. For several reasons. First, because as she explains “Perseverance’s Sherloc instrument is not built to find organic matter, let alone detect potential biosignatures. “againstThe latter, although still Perseverance’s best instrument for rock characterization, uses Raman and Fluorescence spectroscopy. “But the minerals themselves are fluorescent and can be misleading about the amount of organic matter found.” she explains.

Therefore, we will have to wait for the return to Earth, in 2033, to find out more. But the extraordinary character of this latest discovery is also debatable because “In the press release, it is written that it is the richest rock in organic matter ever found. But it is not that the rock is really rich in organic matter! adds C. Freissinet. No scientific publication is added to the press release, leading us to believe that the discovery is not necessarily groundbreaking. » Because an essential element sometimes falls by the wayside: an organic molecule does not necessarily mean life test ! Although its presence indicates a favorable environment. “Its definition is simple: an organic molecule contains carbon and hydrogen. Methane (CH4), for example, is an organic molecule. the researcher recalls.

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