The Mars Curiosity Rover may have just discovered one of the most intriguing finds since day one of landing: a convincing evidence of possible life on the red planet.
The search for life on Mars got more exciting when last July, Huffington Post reported on a staggering discovery by scientists from Carnegie Institution of Science and the University of New Mexico. After analyzing two Martian meteorites, the researchers gave estimates on the amount of water found in Mars' mantle, which they placed between 70 and 300 parts per million (ppm). In comparison, our home planet contains between 50 and 300 ppm. Mars might actually have as much water than Earth, and may have actually harbored life in its H20-rich environment.
And then last week, The Inquisitr reported about Curiosity rover's most thrilling discovery yet - methane spikes in the Martian atmosphere that lasted up to two months. This could only mean two things: one, that the interaction of water and heat on Mars is causing a geological methane-producing event called serpentization, or two, the methane spikes may actually be the waste product of martian microbes.
Paul Mahaffy, a scientist for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, says it is too difficult to automatically conclude that the Mars Curiosity rover's discovery points out to the existence of simple life on the planet. "Right now, it's too much of a single-point measurement for us really to jump to any conclusions. So all we can really do is lay out the possibilities," Mahaffy said.
"And we certainly should have an open mind. Maybe there are microbes on Mars cranking out methane, but we sure can't say that with any certainty. It's just speculation at this point," Mahaffy added.
Nevertheless, there is a possibility that the methane spikes are actually being caused by undiscovered organisms on Mars. Regardless of real cause, Curiosity rover's discovery has still made humanity one step closer to discovering life outside our planet. This news was exciting for some, but understandably frightening for others. For once, we are much closer to debunking one of the most prevalent beliefs in the world - that we are alone in the vast, cold cosmos.
The pressing question now is this: what if the microbes are actually causing the sudden increase of methane quantities? Not only does this change a vast number of scientific fields, it will also change our perspective as human beings. For the first time, we realize that we are not alone. How would this change our lives, our relationships and our spiritual beliefs.
This intriguing discovery may or may not lead to finding life on the Martian surface. However, one thing is for sure: if we do discover life outside the planet - on our neighbor planet by Mars Curiosity rover or elsewhere in the universe -humanity would have a heck of soul searching to do.
[Image from NASA/Flickr]