a large rover on a rocky reddish surface

Space station experiment suggests Mars rovers will have to dig deep to find life

NASA’s Mars rovers shouldn’t expect to detect biomarkers on the Red Planet’s surface, according to a new study based on an experiment aboard the International Space Station (ISS) that suggests ultraviolet radiation will break down these molecules after only a year or two.

Both Curiosity and Perseverance use Raman spectrometers to identify organic compounds and, potentially, biological molecules on March‘ surface. A Raman spectrometer uses a laser to excite molecules, and then the way those excited molecules scatter light tells scientists what kind of molecules they are. In particular, they are sensitive to organic compounds, which is why they are a key tool for both rovers.

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