Asteroids and comets pour Mars organic matter

Asteroids and comets pour Mars organic matter

Cartoon Mars, taking a shower from organics. The analysis shows that 33% of the organic material on the Red Planet appeared due to asteroids and comets. But 67% is accounted for interplanetary dust

It turns out that asteroids and comets are more important in the supply of organic molecules to Mars. Until this point, scientists believed that the main source are particles from space. Now computer models indicate that 1/3 of the material has become available from asteroids and comets.

In 2015, the Curiosity rover revealed the remains of organic molecules on the Red Planet. Then the researchers became interested in how they appeared there. The main theory was that the molecules were associated with interplanetary dust particles. They are common everywhere. For example, around our planet, dust particles entering the atmosphere and causing “shooting stars” are noticeable. Researchers at the Netherlands Institute of Space Research SRON suspected that the theory of dust particles remains incomplete. They suggested that some organic molecules could come from asteroids and comets. To study this moment, they had to create a computer model of our system while accounting for hundreds of thousands of asteroids and comets.

Calculations showed that 192 tons of carbon per year goes to Mars. This is comparable to 8 trucks. Approximately 129 tons of carbon comes from interplanetary dust particles. However, asteroids provide another 50 tons per year, and comets - 13 tons.

These are important conclusions for future Martian missions. Rovers should closely monitor the impact craters of asteroids, since in these places you can find a lot of organic material. The study also affects the search for life in exoplanets. Now scientists are focused on Mercury, where they found water.

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