The atmosphere and geography of Mars have always piqued scientists’ interest, but a recent NASA laboratory experiment suggests that in order to look for any signs of extraterrestrial life, researchers may need to adopt a new approach. The experiment indicates that the Rovers will need to drill at least 6.6 feet or more beneath Mars’ surface in order to uncover any signs of life.
The Rovers can detect amino acid residues at that depth, which is a clear sign that there once was life on the red planet. The study hypothesizes that over time, cosmic rays on Mars have harmed any evidence of life.
According to a study that was published in the journal Astrobiology, the evidence for life on Mars may be fading more quickly than had been anticipated by the researchers.
According to an article on Interesting Engineering, “Our data imply that amino acids are damaged by cosmic rays in the Martian surface rocks and regolith at far higher rates than previously anticipated.” Alexander Pavlov is from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
“Rover missions now operating on Mars only go down around two inches” (around five centimeters). Amino acids would be entirely destroyed at those depths in under 20 million years. The rate of amino acid oxidation is further accelerated by the addition of perchlorates and water.
He continued, “Missions with shallow drill sampling must look for freshly exposed outcrops, for example, recent micro craters with dates less than 10 million years or the material ejected from such craters.