Boron traces give further evidence that Mars once had life

BY WILSON SOTO | PUBLISHED: 09-11-2017

Researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in conjunction with NASA's Curiosity rover has discovered the presence of boron on the surface of Mars, providing further evidence that life once existed on the rocky planet.

Researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in conjunction with NASA's Curiosity rover has discovered the presence of boron on the surface of Mars, providing further evidence that life once existed on the rocky planet.

The machine identified the substance -- which it first discovered in the Gale crater -- using its Chemical and Camera (ChemCam) instrument, which analyzes rock composition by blasting them with a laser.
The findings is important because many scientists believe that there once could have been an"RNA world," where life only existed as individual RNA strands that were able to copy themselves. In order for such a environment to exist there also had to be a sugar known as ribose. Unfortunately, sugars are quite unstable and they typically decompose faster than they can create RNA,Tech Timesreports.

Boron helps with that process because, when dissolved in water, the substance turns in borate, which stabilizes single strands long enough to create RNA. That is important because RNA is a key building block for life. If boron existed on the planet than RNA could have as well.

"Borates are one possible bridge from simple organic molecules to RNA," said Patrick Gasda, a postdoctoral researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Fox News reports. "Without RNA, you have no life."

This is the second time astronomers have found traces of boron on Mars. The first instance came in 2013 when a Martian meteorite found in Antarctica contained traces of the chemical.

While the new research is compelling evidence that some form of life once existed on Mars, scientists are not yet sure if there is enough evidence to claim the planet was once habitable. Past research has suggested Mars once had a habitable environment, but the next step is to see if anything actually lived in that world.

"Whether Martian life has ever existed is still unknown," states the Los Alamos National Laboratory press release. "No compelling evidence for it has been found."

The new paper is published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

 

 

Comments
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 19, 2017
Researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in conjunction with NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered the presence of boron on the surface of Mars, providing further evidence that life once existed on the rocky planet.
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 19, 2017
Researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in conjunction with NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered the presence of boron on the surface of Mars, providing further evidence that life once existed on the rocky planet.
Wilson Soto - Sep 19, 2017
Researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in conjunction with NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered the presence of boron on the surface of Mars, providing further evidence that life once existed on the rocky planet.
Dan Taylor - Sep 19, 2017
Researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in conjunction with NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered the presence of boron on the surface of Mars, providing further evidence that life once existed on the rocky planet.
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 18, 2017
Researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in conjunction with NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered the presence of boron on the surface of Mars, providing further evidence that life once existed on the rocky planet.
Joseph Scalise - Sep 18, 2017
Researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in conjunction with NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered the presence of boron on the surface of Mars, providing further evidence that life once existed on the rocky planet.
Joyce Clark - Sep 16, 2017
Researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in conjunction with NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered the presence of boron on the surface of Mars, providing further evidence that life once existed on the rocky planet.