Organic molecules present in truffles, coal and oil on Earth have been identified on the surface of Mars and may hint at the presence of alien life on the red planet.
These chemicals, called thiophenes, are important molecules as they contain both carbon and sulphur — two ingredients essential for life.
Washington State University Dirk Schulze-Makuch, astrobiologist in the School of the Environment looked into how thiophenes came to exist on Mars.
Their findings, published in the journal Astrobiology, indicate the chemicals were likely produced by biological processes and not chemical reactions.
“We identified several biological pathways for thiophenes that seem more likely than chemical ones, but we still need proof,” Schulze-Makuch said.
“If you find thiophenes on Earth, then you would think they are biological, but on Mars, of course, the bar to prove that has to be quite a bit higher.”