Organic matter recently detected by NASA’s robotic rover “Curiosity” is probably not due to contamination brought from Earth as researchers originally thought. A team of German and British scientists led by geoscientist Prof. Dr. Frank Keppler from Heidelberg University now suggests that the gaseous chlorinated organic compound – chloromethane – recently found on the “Red Planet” most likely comes from the soil of Mars, with its carbon and hydrogen probably deriving from meteorites that fell on the planet’s surface. This assumption is supported by isotope measurements made by the scientists in which they replicated some of the Mars lander experiments. In these investigations, samples from a 4.6 billion old meteorite that fell in Australia in 1969 were used.
Results from this study have been published in Scientific Reports ("Chloromethane release from carbonaceous meteorite affords new insight into Mars lander findings").