Man's search for life in Mars intensifies

Published on May 19, 2015 16:44:44 PM
Scientists have come up with a way to search for traces of alien life on the red planet. There was always a fantasy for people to find the "little green men” from Mars.

This fantasy has now found wings, with the unmanned probes that visited Mars finding evidence that life might have existed when there was water in the planel.

"There has been a tremendous amount of very exciting findings this year that Mars once contained actively flowing, low-saline, near-neutral-pH water - pretty much the type of water where you find life on Earth today," said Alison Olcott Marshall, assistant professor of geology at the University of Kansas.

"This has made people think that it's possible that life could have existed on Mars, although most researchers agree it's unlikely to exist today - at least on the surface - as conditions on the surface of Mars are incredibly harsh," said Marshall.

Craig Marshall, associate professor of geology at KU working with her colleague has found a new way to enhance the way scientists detect condensed aromatic carbon which is a chemical signature of astrobiology.

"If we're going to identify life on Mars, it will likely be the fossil remnants of the chemicals once synthesised by life, and we hope our research helps strengthen the ability to evaluate the evidence collected on Mars," Craig said.

The KU researchers want to make sure about the evidence if traces of ancient biology are detected in Mars.

Technology has to move a step ahead to determine if life has existed in the Mars. In the recent paper from the Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society journal says that Raman spectroscopy is able to screen carbonaceous material but is unable predict the source.

"Raman spectroscopy works by impinging a laser on a sample so the molecules within that sample vibrate at diagnostic frequencies," Craig said.

"Measuring those frequencies allows the identification of inorganic and organic materials. It's insufficient because however the carbonaceous material is made, it will be the same chemically and structurally, and thus Raman spectroscopy cannot determine the origin," said Craig.

Researchers say that the use of gas chromatography or mass spectroscopy may be used in place of Raman spectroscopy to develop more conclusive evidence of ancient extraterrestrial life.