PASADENA, Calif. -- An analysis of a rock sample collected by NASA's Curiosity rover shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes.
Scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon -- some of the key chemical ingredients for life -- in the powder Curiosity drilled out of a sedimentary rock near an ancient stream bed in Gale Crater on the Red Planet last month.
"A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "From what we know now, the answer is yes."
that's fascinating, it makes me wonder if they will ever find fossils of small organisms somewhere on Mars.
Would not surprise me. What might be interesting is how deep down they have to dig to find them as the surface of the planet is blown all over the place so who knows how deep down they would have to go.
Favorable to life? That seems to be a severe overstatement.
Anyone who took all their high school science courses should remember that for air to be breathable, it has to be in the right mix,not to mention many other factors: gravity, sustainable atmosphere,little water, no moon....possibly could be cultivated in small areas with very sophisticated technology a bit at a time....
*edit* I should clarify there is a huge difference between "favorable to very simple life" and "favorable to complex organisms"
A radiation sensor inside NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows that even under the best-case scenario and behind shielding currently being designed for NASA’s new deep-space capsule, future travelers will face a huge amount of radiation.
The results, based on Curiosity’s 253-day, 348-million-mile cruise to Mars, indicate an astronaut most likely would exceed the current U.S. lifetime radiation exposure limit during one round trip mission.
Curiosity, which landed inside a giant impact basin near the Martian equator on Aug. 5, 2012, continues to collect radiation data as it conducts its primary mission to look for habitats that could have supported ancient or possible present day microbial life.
Curiosity’s Radiation Assessment Detector, known as RAD, measures the amount and energy levels of highly energetic particles in galactic cosmic rays and from the sun. Scientists then converted the data into radiation dosage units known as sieverts, which are associated with increased cancer risk.
A billion-pixel view from the surface of Mars, from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, offers armchair explorers a way to examine one part of the Red Planet in great detail.
The first NASA-produced view from the surface of Mars larger than one billion pixels stitches together nearly 900 exposures taken by cameras onboard Curiosity and shows details of the landscape along the rover's route.
The 1.3-billion-pixel image is available for perusal with pan and zoom tools at: http://mars.nasa.gov/bp1/ and a scaled down version (~159MB) is available for direct download here: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/...hp?id=PIA16919
We already knew Mars was blanketed in ancient riverbeds, which points to the existence of water in the distant past. What we didn't know, however, is that H2O exists on Mars in the here and now -- albeit embedded in Martian soil. A paper recently published in the journal Science revealed that as much as two percent of dirt from the Red Planet contains the precious liquid. The Curiosity rover gathered samples of the sand from the "Rocknest" area near the Gale Crater back in August of 2012 and delivered it to the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument inside its belly. After heating the sample to around 835 Celsius, SAM was able to detect a surprising amount of carbonate materials, which are formed in the presence of water.
Laurie Leshin, dean of science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the study's lead author said the findings are conclusive: "If you took about a cubic foot of the dirt and heated it up, you'd get a couple of pints of water out of that -- a couple of water bottles' worth that you would take to the gym." Another SAM discovery is a mineral called perchlorate that could interfere with thyroid functions if ingested. Still, if we could work around that, the findings could prove tremendously useful for future Mars explorers. "When we send people," Leshin said in the paper, "they could scoop up the soil anywhere on the surface, heat it just a bit, and obtain water." We're likely years away from having fishing expeditions in Mars, of course, but this does soften the blow about the possible lack of life.
I really start to wonder if Mars looked like earth at one point or another.