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Slide 8 of 16


Organic molecules are based on the element carbon which can form long and complex and branching backbones necessary for large biological molecules. All life on Earth is based on the chemistry of carbon and organic molecules are present throughout space and fall onto the surface of planets and moons. Mars has received enough organic material for the emergence of life. The Viking investigators had expected that if lifeforms were present on the Martian surface then their organic breakdown products should also be present as they are in terrestrial soils. The role of the GCMS device was to search for the organic breakdown products of possible Martian organisms.