Discovering life on Mars is impossible with current rovers

According to new research published by the journal Nature Communications, the current generation of Mars rovers may be able to confirm any signs of ancient life on the planet Mars have problems; Because their scientific tools are not good enough.

In this research, researchers have conducted experiments on the sedimentary rocks of the Red Stone region of the Atacama Desert in Chile, which is one of the oldest and driest deserts on Earth and is geologically similar to the ancient sites that the two NASA rovers are currently exploring.

The problem with NASA’s tools to detect alien life on Mars

Using four instruments on current or future rovers, the team examined samples of Red Stone and found that they were unable to detect organic matter. According to them, only genetic sequencing, a method that can only be done in laboratories on Earth, could find evidence of microbial life in samples that would have been hard to see even using this method.

Ancient life on Mars
Chile’s Atacama Desert (right) and Mars (left)

So the researchers concluded that, even with current technologies, it could be “difficult or impossible” to find any ancient organic matter and microorganisms in Martian rocks. In fact, according to scientists, apart from sending advanced rovers to the Red Planet, the only way to prove signs of life on Mars is to send samples to Earth for DNA analysis.

However, scientists need to equip the rovers with more precise and sophisticated instruments or bring samples back to Earth. However, researchers explain that each of these methods has its own risks and benefits.

There are currently three rovers on the Red Planet; NASA’s Curiosity rover, which landed in Gale Crater on Mars in 2012, recently found its best evidence for water and waves on the Red Planet. Since 2021, the Perseverance rover has been exploring the delta of the ancient Jizerou River to find signs of ancient microbial life.

In May 2021, the Chinese rover Zhurong joined Curiosity and Endurance. However, the rover is not looking for signs of ancient life.

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