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– This discovery is a new step in assessing whether Mars is and/or was habitable, since nitrogen is a basic requirement for life as we know it, says Javier Martín-Torres.
It's the researchers in the Mars Science Laboratory Mission Science Team, in which Javier Martín-Torres is included, who have discovered the solid forms of nitrogen on Mars.
– The presence of nitrogen-bearing compounds in Martian soil means the existence of a source of biochemically accessible nitrogen, and suggest that it could be a nitrogen cycle sometime along the evolution of Mars as a planet, he says.
Although this may seem undramatic, it is an important confirmation of the existence of organic material on another planet.
It does not necessarily have anything to do with anything ever having been alive.
I mean, what else could be left on a planet so long after everything died?
No. On both. Unless you drop the "probablies."
Not finding organic molecules in a place when open water existed for at least millions of years would mean that life probably never existed on Mars, finding them means that it probably did.
originally posted by: Parthin
I understand, but don't you think this is exciting? I mean, what else could be left on a planet so long after everything died? This is what we came to find. Not finding organic molecules in a place when open water existed for at least millions of years would mean that life probably never existed on Mars, finding them means that it probably did.
a reply to: Phage
However, it is important to note that these molecules may not have come from life forms on Mars -- organic molecules can be created from chemical processes that do not involve life, NASA said. At this stage, there is not enough evidence to determine the provenance of the molecules --
originally posted by: mrwiffler
The term "organic" is a bit misleading. The distinction between organic and inorganic chemistry is simply that organic chemistry involves carbon and inorganic does not. There are organic chemicals that are not part of living systems and there a plenty of inorganic ones that are.
It's kind of sloppy to infer that the presence of carbon points to life on mars. There's going to be carbon compounds everywhere.