The discovery of boron on Mars gives scientists new information about the possible existence in the past of life on the surface of the planet, according to a new work published yesterday, September 5.
“Because borates can play an important role in building RNA – one of the” building blocks “of living organisms – finding boron on the surface of Mars increases the chances that life could once have arisen on this planet,” said Patrick Gasda, degree from Los Alamos National Laboratory, USA, and the main author of the new scientific work. – Borates are the only possible “bridge” connecting simple organic molecules with RNA. The presence of boron tells us that if there was organic matter on Mars, then these chemical reactions had the opportunity to flow. ”
The key component of RNA (ribonucleic acid) is sugar called ribose. However, unfortunately, sugars are a relatively unstable class of compounds; they quickly decompose in aqueous solutions. To stabilize ribose, the presence of another element is required – and this function is successfully performed by boron, which in the form of water-soluble borates stabilizes the ribose for a period of time long enough to form RNA from ribose.
This boron, found on Mars, is a part of the substance of the veins of calcium sulfate minerals located inside the ancient Gale crater, which indicates the presence of boron in the groundwater of the Red Planet billions of years ago. These waters are estimated by scientists to have a temperature of 0 to 60 degrees Celsius and a neutral / slightly alkaline pH.
Boron was detected using the ChemCam (Chemistry and Camera) camera of the Curiosity rover, developed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in collaboration with the French Space Agency.