In a new discovery that seems to give a resounding answer for whether or not Mars could have ever supported life and if the planet has the ability to support life, NASA's latest analysis of rock sample from Mars shows that the red planet could have supported living microbes.
Scientists from NASA'S Curiosity rover mission (Curiosity rover is the car-sized robotic machine exploring Gale Crater area on Mars, a part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission) have found life-supporting components in a rock sample drilled by the rover on the Red Planet last month.
"A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment," Michael Mayer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration program in Washington, said in a press release. "From what we know now, the answer is yes."
In the powder of the sedimentary rock Curiosity drilled near a primeval stream bed in Gale Crater in Mars, scientists identified key chemical ingredients for life such as sulphur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon.
The rover is exploring an ancient end of a river system area called Yellowknife Bay area, the rocks of which contain essential chemical compositions and favorable conditions for microbes to thrive.
"Clay minerals make up at least 20 percent of the composition of this sample," David Blake, principal investigator for the CheMin instrument at NASA'S Ames Research Centre in Monffett Field, Calif, said.
These clay minerals, scientist say, are formed when water react with igneous minerals such as olivine, also present in the sediment. Unlike some places in the red planet, the ancient water, NASA says, appeared to be neutral and not too salty. All evidences conclude that Mars supported life in its history.
NASA scientists will work with Curiosity in the Yellowknife Bay area for another few weeks before they start exploring Gale Crater's central mound, Mount Sharp.
From its latest rock sample the Mars Science Laboratory project studied one of the most preliminary data from the Curiosity rover, the robot carrying 10 science instruments in Mars. The rover landed seven months ago in Mars Gale Crater to start its two-year prime mission of finding whether life would have been possible in the area.
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