Knowing that these molecules and compounds were present, then, gives new strength to the idea that life originated or existed on Mars and that more work by the Martian rovers can uncover the past. This new discovery builds on the inventory of molecules detected in the ancient lake sediments on Mars and helps explains why they were preserved.

"Whether it holds a record of ancient life, was food for life, or has existed in the absence of life, organic matter in Martian materials holds chemical clues to planetary conditions and processes".

NASA is remaining characteristically tight-lipped, but has confirmed the announcement will feature "new science results from NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover".

Although there is not enough information to know whether the carbon molecules were created by biological or non-biological processes, it is possible that they could be a source of methane, Dr Eigenbrode said. Today, NASA will be hosting a live discussion to reveal the findings uncovered from its Mars Curiosity rover. "The first one would be life, which we don't know about".

NASA now operates three orbiters and two surface rovers at Mars with a new lander - InSight - on the way.

"What the organic detections in the rock do is to add to the story of habitability".

Dr Webster said the difference was much larger than what you would expect if the methane was produced by the breakdown of organic matter from space.

One thing is for sure, though - whatever we can figure out about the chemistry of Mars, it's nearly certainly going to add precious details to our understanding of life in the cosmos.

In addition to organic chemicals, NASA revealed that Curiosity discovered seasonal atmospheric methane variations on the Red Planet.

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"With these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and keep searching for evidence of life", said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in Washington.

The rover was able to heat the samples to between 932 and 1508 degrees Fahrenheit and study the organic molecules released through gas analysis.

Over five years, Curiosity has used its Tunable Laser Spectrometer to measure methane in the atmosphere at the Gale crater. "Both radiation and harsh chemicals break down organic matter", said Eigenbrode. The methane could even be trapped in water-based crystals beneath the surface.

A set of geological results recently delivered courtesy of Curiosity's drill bit provides a deeper understanding of the organic chemistry of the 300-million-year-old mudstone in two separate parts of Gale crater.

Even though the TGO mission can't get as close to the source as the Curiosity Rover, Dr Webster said it could locate potential areas where methane is concentrated or coming from.

All of the outside sources I spoke with said it's important to be skeptical about claims of life, extinct or otherwise, on the Red Planet.

"Although the surface of Mars is inhospitable today, there is clear evidence that in the distant past, the Martian climate allowed liquid water - an essential ingredient for life as we know it - to pool at the surface", NASA reports.

"That would be exciting because if that is done within two years, NASA can send a mission specifically to that place", he said.


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