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New technique may help spot life on Mars

Unmanned spacecrafts sent by the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA to Mars have found evidence that water, the basic condition for life may have existed on the Red Planet.

Alison Olcott Marshall, assistant professor of geology at the University of Kansas along with her coworker Craig Marshall, associate professor of geology at KU is working on improving the way condensed aromatic carbon is identified by the researchers.

Raman Spectroscopy can screen carbonaceous substance by itself, though it cannot find its source. Therefore, this technology must be supplemented for ascertaining the existence of life on the red planet, as per a latest paper published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

Craig said in a statement "Raman spectroscopy works by impinging a laser on a sample so the molecules within that sample vibrate at diagnostic frequencies."

Craig further added "Measuring those frequencies allows the identification of inorganic and organic materials. It's insufficient because however the carbonaceous material is made, it will be the same chemically and structurally, and thus Raman spectroscopy cannot determine the origin."

According to researchers, Raman spectroscopy should be supplemented with mass spectroscopy or gas chromatography to come up with conclusive evidence of the existence of life on Mars.