An international team of researchers has found that the Martian meteorite Tissint, which landed in Morocco in July 2011, contains a “great diversity” of organic compounds commonly associated with life. Scientists have assembled the most comprehensive catalog yet of the various organic compounds found in the five Martian meteorites recovered from Earth since 1815, or in any sample recovered by a Mars rover.
One of the biggest surprises was the discovery that Tissint contained an abundance of organic magnesium compounds, which had never been seen before on Mars. These organic molecules provide new insights into the high-pressure, high-temperature geochemistry that shaped Mars’ deep interior, and the researchers highlight a link between the planet’s carbon cycle and its mineral evolution.
A better understanding of the genesis of these organic compounds on Mars can help determine whether the planet ever supported life, and it can also shed light on Earth’s geological history, explained the team composed of scientists from several institutions, including the Technical University of Munich in Germany and the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC.
“Understanding the processes and sequence of events that shaped this rich organic wealth will reveal new details about the habitability of Mars and potentially the reactions that could lead to the formation of life,” the co-author said. study Andrew Steele of Carnegie, who studied organic matter in Martian meteorites and was part of the scientific teams of the Perseverance and Curiosity rovers.
It should be noted that previous research on Martian meteorites, including the work of Steele, has demonstrated that a range of organic molecules can be created by abiotic organic chemistry.