This image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill. The image was taken after the sample was transferred from the drill to the rover's scoop. In planned subsequent steps, the sample will be sieved, and portions of it delivered to the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument and the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument.
This image from NASA’s Curiosity rover shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover’s drill. The image was taken after the sample was transferred from the drill to the rover’s scoop. In planned subsequent steps, the sample will be sieved, and portions of it delivered to the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument and the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument.

By Claire

New analyses carried out by the Curiosity Rover on Mars provides more evidence that conditions on Mars were suitable for life.

The Curiosity Rover has been working in an area known as “Yellow Knife Bay”, which has been identified as an ancient stream bed.

Analyses of the composition of rock powder from the stream bed indicate “the rock is made up of a fine-grained mudstone containing clay minerals, sulfate minerals and other chemicals. This ancient wet environment, unlike some others on Mars, was not harshly oxidizing, acidic or extremely salty.”

The sample contained “sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon — some of the key chemical ingredients for life.” Scientists have concluded that this environment could have supported microbial life. 

Analysis of environments on Mars is lead by our understanding of the necessary components required by life to survive. The discovery of life in conditions on Earth that were thought to be too harsh for anything to survive, such as the Atacama Desert, or hydrothermal vents on the sea floor provides hope that life may have been able to survive on Mars also.

For those of you who are interested, there will be a broadcast on NASA TV discussing the first rock sample analysis at 11am AEDST or 10pm tonight.

You can also read more about the rock sample analysis here.