Scoop marks in the Mars soil from analyses conducted by Curiosity.
Scoop marks in the Mars soil from analyses conducted by Curiosity.

By Claire

A presentation given by the team responsible for putting the Curiosity Rover on Mars, and for its ongoing exploration have presented some initial findings from the missions at the AGU fall meeting, held this week in San Francisco.

Curiosity has begun sampling the martian soil, testing the chemical composition of a small sand dune in Rocknest.

Curiosity has scooped five soil samples from this area, sending the samples into a variety of analytical tools on board for analysis.

Flow chart showing the process for analysing the soil samples.
Flow chart showing the process for analysing the soil samples.

Initial results from the soil analysis show the presence of organic carbon molecules – a possible indication of the presence of life on Mars.

At this stage, the Curiosity team are cautious of this result, indicating that these molecules could have been brought with Curiosity from Earth. Further analysis of additional soil samples will help to clarify the origin of these organic compounds.

View the full AGU presentation here.