From “Organic Carbon from Mars, but Not Biological” ( ScienceDaily, May 24, 2012), we learn,
ScienceDaily (May 24, 2012) — Molecules containing large chains of carbon and hydrogen–the building blocks of all life on Earth–have been the targets of missions to Mars from Viking to the present day. While these molecules have previously been found in meteorites from Mars, scientists have disagreed about how this organic carbon was formed and whether or not it came from Mars.
A new paper led by Carnegie’s Andrew Steele provides strong evidence that this carbon did originate on Mars, although it is not biological.
There has been little agreement among scientists about the origin of the large carbon macromolecules detected in Martian meteorites. Theories about their origin include contamination from Earth or other meteorites, the results of chemical reactions on Mars, or that they are the remnants of ancient Martian biological life.
Possible life, of course, being the reason for public interest.
Although the release carefully avoids saying so, the finding that the product under dispute was not biological must surely be a setback for those hoping for demonstrable evidence of life on Mars.
Note: Did you know that you can Google Mars?