Mars Molecules

6 Mar 2020

At https://phys.org/news/2020-03-molecules-curiosity-rover-early-life.html ... (see Astrobiology journal - https://doi.org/10.1089/ast.2019.2139 ) ... organic compounds known as thiophenes are found on earth resident in coal and crude oil, for example - even in truffles (a fungi wild pigs are keen to root out). Now, thiophenes have been found on Mars - which might be consistent with life on the red planet (bacterial in nature). On the other hand they may have arrived via meteors or comets (life from space perhaps, aka Hoyle and Ramasinghe). Thiophenes are molecules which have four atoms of carbon and one atom of  sulfur. Carbon and sulfur are bio-essential elements but the researchers do not exclude non-biological processes (or unknown biological processes), in order to explain their existence on Mars. The Safire Project may have something to say on this.

At https://phys.org/news/2020-03-reveals-life-universe-common-neighborhood.... ... which comes from Scientific Reports - see https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-58060-0. Here we are told life in the universe is probably common - but not in our neighbourhood. The problem is that RNA (protonucleic acids) is still orders of magnitude more complex than the kinds of chemicals one might find floating around in space or on apparently lifeless planets and moons. The components of life might be fairly common but how it develops into RNA (and subsequently, DNA) is currently a mystery.