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.