NASA scientists examining their first sample of Martian rock dug out by the rover Curiosity found some remarkable things in there: sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and carbon. In other words, ingredients that show the planet once could have supported life. Lead scientist Michael Mayer sums it up thusly:
- "A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment. From what we know now, the answer is yes."
Curiosity took the sample from where it had previously found an ancient streambed, making today's announcement more of a confirmation of what scientists suspected rather than a bombshell revelation. They found that the rock has clay minerals that could have theoretically been home to living microbes, reports the AP. "We have characterized a very ancient, but strangely new 'gray Mars' where conditions once were favorable for life," says another scientist on the team, reports CNN. (And if life did exist, what happened to it? Capitalism wiped it out, of course, theorized Hugo Chavez.)