According to recent reports, NASA may have discovered what could have potentially been the earliest detection of organics present on Mars, and then caused its accidental destruction. This comes on the heels of NASA’s first corroboration of the organic molecules present on the Red Planet in 2014. Scientists have always suspected presence of such molecules there because of constant bombardment on Mars of the meteorites which are rich in carbon. A mission sent to Mars in 1976 for discovering these molecules however, yielded no results, much to the surprise of researchers.
A scientist at the Ames Research Center of NASA stated that this result was not expected by them, as they thought it to be inconsistent with their data. A plausible explanation obtained was that perchlorate, which was observed on Mars, burned up under high temperature, and the instruments used to find the organics needed to heat up the surface first, which could have caused burning of the samples. However, scientists were not satisfied completely with this theory, so they continued further studies. With this in mind, scientists again visited the Red Planet to see if they had missed something. The team found that the earlier mission in 1976 would also have detected chlorobenzene, but it was not a proof that they had destroyed the molecules. Still, opinions of the scientists are divided.
Meanwhile, NASA has a trash problem on its hands, and it has been asking for suggestions from the general public regarding ways to dispose the garbage in future space missions. NASA had laid out a concept for Trash Compaction and Processing Systems, wherein it had requested a need for partners to attain this objective. Any of the concepts should fulfill four main objectives: storage of trash in both long and short-terms, processing, stabilizing, and managing effluents. NASA has been itself trying to tackle this issue by turning trash into gas, as well as recovering residual water from the garbage. NASA will be meeting with industrial partners on July 24 to further detail its plans.