Curiosity has found discovered that Mars possesses conditions that could have supported ancient — and future — life, announced NASA scientists during a press conference Tuesday.
"A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program. "From what we know now, the answer is yes."
Reportedly, the sample taken from the sedimentary rock targeted by Curiosity contains sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and carbon, all key ingredients for life. One NASA scientist referred to the findings as "really something special," as well as containing up to 20% clay — which is formed by the reaction of relatively fresh water with igneous materials.
Additonally, scientists discovered a mixture of oxidized, less-oxidized, and even non-oxidized chemicals capable of supporting an energy gradient of the sort many microbes on Earth require for survival.
"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, a NASA official.