Photo: Conditions on Mars (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/MSSS)
Mars could have harbored life, according to the analysis of a rock sample collected by the robot probe Curiosity, NASA reported Tuesday.
Scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon in the sample, all of which are essential chemical ingredients for life as we know it.
“A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment,” Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, said.
“From what we know now, the answer is yes,” he said.
The key information for postulating this habitable environment comes from data revealed by the analysis of soil and rock samples using the Chemistry and Mineralogy and Sample Analysis at Mars instruments.
The data indicate that in the area where Curiosity has been exploring there was an ancient river or small lake that could have contained the chemical components necessary to create favorable conditions for supporting microbes.
The drilling site where the probe obtained the sample was located near where Curiosity found the bed of an ancient watercourse last year.
Curiosity, which landed on Mars on Aug. 6, 2012, is carrying out a two-year exploration mission on the surface of the Red Planet. E