Space chiefs reckon they now have proof of life on Mars – just as David Bowie asked.
They have discovered “organic” molecules on the Red Planet that are “consistent with alien life”.
Experts say the compounds, called thiophenes, are also found on Earth in things including mushrooms, crude oil, truffles and coal.
Nasa’s car-sized rover Curiosity made the discovery while exploring our nearest neighbouring planet.
And excited scientists believe they finally have proof that there really was life on Mars – which was the question posed by David Bowie in his 1971 song.
US astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch believes bacteria that could have existed when the planet was warmer and wetter more than three billion years ago may have produced the compound.
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But he said a more detailed study was needed to conclusively prove the find was biological in nature and not the result of a chemical-only reaction.
Mr Schulze-Makuch said however that the find “strongly suggests that indigenous organic compounds exist on Mars”.
A new paper published in the journal Astrobiology detailed the discovery.
It said: “The question whether organic compounds occur on Mars remained unanswered for decades.
“However, the recent discovery of various classes of organic matter in Martian sediments by the Curiosity rover seems to strongly suggest that indigenous organic compounds exist on Mars.”
Astronomers are hoping that the Rosalind Franklin rover, which launches this summer, will lead to more clues when it touches down on Mars in 2021.
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