Jonathan Lunine, the David C. Duncan Professor in the Physical Sciences and director of Cornell’s Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, discusses recent discoveries on Mars in this CNN Online story.
“So what is the significance of the discovery reported by NASA on Thursday?,” Lunine writes. “It is that organic molecules have survived in the soil of Mars. This is remarkable because they survived only inches below Mars' surface, a surface where the radiation that penetrates the thin Martian atmosphere easily destroys organic molecules. Other searches for organic molecules on Mars have been unsuccessful, and these failures have in part been blamed on the harsh environment for preserving them.”