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SYFY WIRE Resident Alien

Evidence of Organic Molecules (Not Life) Found on Mars

It isn't aliens, but it is alien ingredients.

By Cassidy Ward

When an alien posing as a vacationing doctor shows up in town and starts making friends, the townsfolk of SYFY's Resident Alien (streaming now on Peacock!), at least the few of them who know the truth about Harry Vanderspeigle (Alan Tudyk), have pretty solid evidence they're not alone in the universe.

How to Watch

Watch Resident Alien on SYFY and Peacock.

Failing the arrival of our own alien best friend, scientists are left searching the solar system and the rest of the universe for leftover evidence of current or previous alien life. Now, researchers analyzing data from NASA's Perseverance rover have found evidence of organic molecules at Jezero crater, according to a new paper published in the journal Nature.

Did scientists find evidence of alien life on Mars?

The short answer is no, but NASA's Perseverance rover did find evidence of organic molecules at Jezero crater.

Scientists chose Jezero crater as the stomping ground for the Perseverance precisely because it looks like a pretty good place for life to set up shop. The crater houses an ancient river delta where liquid water is believed to have flowed for at least a million years. If you wanted to cook up life on Mars, it's exactly the sort of place you'd try to do it.

RELATED: NASA Announces New Office for Receiving Alien Rock Samples

Over the last few years, Perseverance has carefully explored Jezero looking for, among other things, evidence of past life on the Red Planet. One of its primary activities has been gathering rock samples for a future return mission to Earth.

In the meantime, however, Perseverance is doing first order analysis on Mars, using instruments it has onboard. Researches looked at 10 targets analyzed by the rover's Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC) instrument. In each case, scientists confirmed the existence of organic molecules on the surface of rock samples.

Perseverance Rock Sampling

To be clear, Perseverance did not find life on Mars. It did, however, find some of the basic ingredients a planet needs if it wants to make life.

Researchers found several different types of organic molecules on samples from the Máaz and Séítah formations inside Jezero. Moreover, the characteristics and distribution of those molecules were consistent with minerals associated with aqueous processes and different parts of the carbon cycle. In plain language, they are the sorts of things you'd expect to see if Mars had the same kinds of water and carbon cycles as Earth.

The presence of organic molecules potentially moving through a carbon cycle inside the shallow waters of a flowing river delta isn't an alien neon sign, but it's the sort of place you might erect a neon sign. There's no confirmation of alien life yet, but the findings from Perseverance offer one more brick in a foundation that might one day confirm the existence of life elsewhere in the universe.

In the meantime, catch Resident Alien, streaming now on Peacock!