Whatever organic chemicals may be produced on Mars or delivered to Mars face several possible modes of being transformed or destroyed. Organic chemicals are molecular building block of life, although they can be made without the presence of life. Whether or not organic chemicals are produced by processes on Mars, some are delivered to the planet aboard meteorites and dust from asteroids and comets.
Data graphed here are examples from the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory's detection of Martian organics in a sample of powder that the drill on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover collected from a rock target called "Cumberland." SAM's analysis of the Cumberland sample yielded the first definitive detection of any Martian organic chemicals in material on the surface of Mars.
This graphic offers comparisons between the amount of an organic chemical named chlorobenzene detected in the "Cumberland" rock sample and amounts of the same compound in samples from three other Martian surface targets analyzed by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover.
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover used the Dust Removal Tool on its robotic arm to brush aside reddish, more-oxidized dust, revealing a gray patch of less-oxidized rock material at a target called "Bonanza King," visible in this image from the rover's Mast Camera (Mastcam).
MAVEN’s Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (IUVS) uses limb scans to map the chemical makeup and vertical structure across Mars’ upper atmosphere. It detected strong enhancements of magnesium and iron from ablating incandescing dust from Comet Siding Spring. Credit: NASA