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Curiosity rover  (Source: media.t3.com)
A second drilled sample will be used to confirm these results

NASA's Curiosity rover has found further proof that Mars could have, at one time, supported life.

Curiosity collected a sedimentary rock sample in the Yellowknife Bay area, which is the end of an ancient stream bed in Mars' Gale Crater.

The rock sample contains nitrogen, sulfur, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and phosphorous, which are all indicative of possible life.

Also, clay minerals make up about 20 percent of the rock's composition, and according to NASA, clay minerals are the end result of the reaction of igneous minerals and fresh water. The reaction could have taken place within the sedimentary deposit or in the source region of the sediment.

Also, calcium sulfate found with the clay indicates that the soil is neutral or "mildly alkaline." The finding of a combination of oxidized, less-oxidized and non-oxidized chemicals offers an energy gradient that many microbes on Earth take advantage of.

"We have characterized a very ancient, but strangely new 'gray Mars' where conditions once were favorable for life," said John Grotzinger, Mars Science Laboratory project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. "Curiosity is on a mission of discovery and exploration, and as a team we feel there are many more exciting discoveries ahead of us in the months and years to come."

A second drilled sample will be used to confirm these results.

Curiosity will spend several more weeks in the Yellowknife Bay area before setting off to Mount Sharp -- a central mound in Gale Crater.

"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 at the agency's headquarters in Washington.

"From what we know now, the answer is yes."

Source: NASA



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Hold your horses
By ppardee on 3/12/2013 6:59:26 PM , Rating: 3
Having an environment that microbes could take advantage of and actually having microbes (or ex-microbes) on the planet are two HUGELY different things.

Knowing the composition of the surface tells us only the composition of the surface. Until proof of life or remnants of life are found, all this tells us is that looking for life on the planet is only mostly foolish instead of almost entirely foolish.




RE: Hold your horses
By Reclaimer77 on 3/12/2013 7:34:27 PM , Rating: 5
lol yeah. The wording of the article and those at NASA sorta reminds me of a different analogy...

On Earth the base elements of tomato paste, flour, and meatballs can be found, which are all indicative of possible flying spaghetti monsters...


RE: Hold your horses
By tng on 3/13/13, Rating: -1
RE: Hold your horses
By martin5000 on 3/13/2013 9:01:14 AM , Rating: 2
Eh? Having a rigorous scientific attitude is crucial to finding the truth.

Too many people decide what they want to be true, then set out only to prove that.


RE: Hold your horses
By Arsynic on 3/13/2013 9:43:10 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Eh? Having a rigorous scientific attitude is crucial to finding the truth. Too many people decide what they want to be true, then set out only to prove that.

This happens in the scientific community A LOT. There needs to be a clear delineation between hypothesis and hope-othesis.


RE: Hold your horses
By tng on 3/13/2013 11:48:44 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
This happens in the scientific community A LOT.
Not what I said. The scientific community is not the one guy who's post struck me as a very unscientific attitude that dismissed any possibility that there may have been a microbe present in the past.

I doubt the guy who made the comment was either in the science of verifying the findings coming back from Mars or in any science field whatsoever, and it is a common attitude I see.


RE: Hold your horses
By drycrust3 on 3/13/2013 4:05:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I doubt the guy who made the comment was either in the science of verifying the findings coming back from Mars or in any science field whatsoever, and it is a common attitude I see.

It sounds like you are the one with the unscientific mind.
What did Nasa say? "The rock sample contains nitrogen, sulfur, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and phosphorous", which are important constituents of living things. Life isn't just about having the right elements around.
Even if they had found every single element necessary for life there, and it wouldn't surprise me if they did, that doesn't mean the environment was such that any living thing would survive there.
Your "scientific" model for the appearance of life requires millions of years of perfect environment for life to arise, but so far there is only scant evidence that Mars possibly had an environment that might have been suitable for a short period of time, not the millions of years you require. All the evidence we've got is the current environment guarantees to kill any living thing, and has been for a long time. So what does NASA say? "...Mars could have, at one time, supported life". So what? I'm sure the same thing could be said about the rest of the planets in our solar system, that at one time they might have had an environment that could have supported life.
The whole thing is just PR to say "Look, we aren't a waste of money" to guarantee funding for the next financial year. It has almost no scientific value at all.


RE: Hold your horses
By tng on 3/13/2013 5:12:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What did Nasa say? "The rock sample contains nitrogen, sulfur, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and phosphorous", which are important constituents of living things. Life isn't just about having the right elements around.
Again, hate to break it to you, I did not say that there was life there or not. I just suggested that it is unscientific to discount the possibility without more information (in this case, allot more).


RE: Hold your horses
By ballist1x on 3/13/2013 8:58:50 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Having an environment that microbes could take advantage of and actually having microbes (or ex-microbes) on the planet are two HUGELY different things.


100% agree

because they have a skies it means people flyed kites there too right? derp...

For me, finding a dog turd would be indicative of a dog having lived there. Having open space that a dog could have run about in, does not mean there was a dog there.

But i guess when you need to make things up to pull in the readers anything goes?


RE: Hold your horses
By Labotomizer on 3/13/2013 9:10:48 AM , Rating: 2
And that's the problem with Curiosity. While I understand not wanting to rush this and that the exploration of Mars is a fantastic test ground and stepping stone for humans, we are hamstringing NASA's budget far too much. This thing should have been entirely capable of detecting microbes in addition to analyzing soil samples. But we left that off. Why?

I can't imagine it's cheaper to send another rover in 10 years that can actually find traces of life. Shouldn't we have combined it into one? Also, Titan seems more interesting as well as some of the asteroids out there.

As humans our entire life has been based around expansion and exploration. It's insanely important to keep pushing those limits. But we have decided it's better to waste money on corporate bailouts and playing world police than it is to expand our knowledge as a species. Considering we had people on the moon 50 years ago we should be at a point now where we know Mars extremely well and are now exploring further into the solar system. Not taking baby steps.

Hopefully we find resources on Mars that makes it worthwhile from a commercial aspect. Then we can have companies pushing to get there, and greed is a great motivator.


RE: Hold your horses
By Arsynic on 3/13/2013 9:50:14 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Considering we had people on the moon 50 years ago we should be at a point now where we know Mars extremely well and are now exploring further into the solar system. Not taking baby steps.


Are you still under the delusion that going to the moon was a scientific endeavor? It wasn't. It was a Cold War dick-waving contest between the U.S. and the Soviets. It was war. And people risked their lives or died during this battle.

A weak-kneed American public couldn't stomach the casualties that come along with space exploration without some greater cause involved. The moment someone gets stranded in space and we can watch them slowly die over a live stream is the moment any further exploration dies with them.


RE: Hold your horses
By tng on 3/13/2013 11:58:36 AM , Rating: 2
Very true. Our manned Moon effort ended, what, 3 missions early? We stopped it early because we figured out the USSR was not going to go to the Moon, so we had no need to go anymore.

If the USSR had some plan that was actively trying to put men on Mars, we would have put money into that as well.


RE: Hold your horses
By tng on 3/13/2013 11:52:18 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
looking for life on the planet is only mostly foolish instead of almost entirely foolish.
That is not a "scientific attitude" as it seems that you have already written the possibility off as unprovable.


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