NASA’s Curiosity rover did not find any evidence of ancient or modern microbial life on the red planet, but made two discoveries that bring this potential closer in the future.
Above, Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite measured small organic molecules from the stone samples. Some of these contain sulfur, which could have helped in their preservation. Credit NASA
NASA’s Curiosity rover drilled this two-inch-deep hole in a Martian rock as part of its examinations of the Martian soil composition. Credit NASA
In addition to organic matter, it has also been confirmed that not only a basic organic chemical compound, methane, exists in the Martian atmosphere, probably originating from an unknown source on the surface or underground of the planet.
A graph showing changes in methane concentrations observed over time. Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech
Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, at NASA Headquarters, said:
“Are there signs of life on Mars?
We don’t know, but these results tell us we are on the right track.”