The Mars rover Opportunity stirred in the midst of its slumber in the long Martian winter and snapped this beautiful composite image. One month from today it will be joined by the much larger Curiosity and the search for ancient life will begin in earnest. Assuming Curiosity survives NASA’s Rube Goldberg reentry and descent contraption. And a new study suggests signs of ancient life could be lurking just under the surface for it to find:
CS Monitor— The research indicates that simple organic molecules, such as a single molecule of formaldehyde, could exist a mere 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) beneath the Martian surface. While the radiation level at these depths is still intense, simple building blocks of life (and, in the case of young craters, perhaps even complex building blocks) could survive, the researchers said.
The study, which suggests ideal locations and depths to search for organic molecules, could act as a road map for the Curiosity rover, which is due to land on Mars the night of Aug. 5.