SF News – NASA’s rover Curiosity sent back some amazing data from the red planet following a drilling done on a rock. The data shows that the planet could have supported life at some point in past. That is about three billion years ago.
The Curiosity Rover has been roaming the planet Mars for seven months now but this is the first time the first rock it drilled into.
After the drilling, NASA reported Tuesday afternoon, analysis of the rock sample showed traces of sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon. They are all key chemical ingredients of life as we know it. The drilling actually took place on February 8.
The rock was located near an old streambed. The area, according to the data sent back to earth, was once the end of a river way back in time or a lake.
“‘The range of chemical ingredients we have identified in the sample is impressive, and it suggests pairings such as sulfates and sulfides that indicate a possible chemical energy source for micro-organisms,’ said Paul Mahaffy, principal investigator of the SAM suite of instruments at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.”
A statement by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said, “Scientists were surprised to find a mixture of oxidized, less-oxidized, and even non-oxidized chemicals, providing an energy gradient of the sort many microbes on Earth exploit to live. This partial oxidation was first hinted at when the drill cuttings were revealed to be gray rather than red.