A new study conducted by a team of researchers has discovered organic molecules containing nitrogen in a Martian meteorite. The meteorite that apparently reached from Mars is at least four billion years old, and researchers believe that more studies on the space rock could shed light on the Red Planet's mysterious past.
More details of the Martian meteorite
Scientists have named the meteorite ALH 84001, and they believe that the space rock might have ejected from the surface of Mars 15 million years ago. Even though the meteorite was discovered in Antarctica in 1984, it is the new study that offered glimpses of Mars' early history.
The discovery of nitrogen molecules in the Martian rock was made by an expert team that included researchers from the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at Tokyo Institute of Technology and the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science at Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
The research team revealed that Mars once had liquid water on its surface, and as a result, it had a different appearance. Scientists also suggested that Mars was once Earth-like, and it had a blue color.
"Because carbonate minerals typically precipitate from the groundwater, this finding suggests a wet and organic-rich early Mars, which could have been habitable and favorable for life to start. Early Mars may have been more 'Earth-like', less oxidizing, wetter, and organic-rich. Perhaps it was blue," wrote the researchers in the study report.
Is Mars habitable now?
In the research report which is now published in the journal Nature Communications, scientists noted that the current surface of Mars is too harsh for life to survive. The researchers also made it clear that organic compounds could likely be preserved in the near-surface of Mars for billions of years, and meteorite ALH 84001 could be substantiating the possibility of this theory.
Even though study reports like these rule out the possibility of life on Mars, Dr Jim Green, a NASA chief scientist, believes that alien life, at least in its microbial form, will be discovered on the Red Planet by 2021. He argues that humanity is not prepared enough to accept the realities surrounding alien existence.