NASA stepped up to the plate on Tuesday in a much-hyped press conference, where the space agency was supposed to tell the world what's really inside Martian rocks. That's exactly what they did. And it was good.
Mineral analysis from the Curiosity rover on Mars shows that life could have survived on the red planet. The rover drilled into sedimentary bedrock near the recently discovered ancient stream bed and found the building blocks of life: sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon.
"A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment," Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, said in the statement. "From what we know now, the answer is yes."
In my head, this is the point in the story where the David Bowie kicks in. This is an amazing discovery! It's not exactly the same as finding ancient life forms, but to know that they could have existed brings us one little step closer to answering that ultimate question.
This evidence does support life, but not the myths of little green men that you may be thinking about. Scientists believe that microbes could have survived in the ancient streambed, where there was also clay that only could've been formed in the presence of water. Scientists have found evidence o f water on Mars in the past, but this is different. Previous discoveries have suggested the presence of super salty, acidic water that may not have been able to support life.
Based on what Curiosity found, this was no acid-filled stew. John Grotzinger, project scientist from the California Institute of Technology explained, "We have found a habitable environment that is so benign and supportive of life, that probably if this water was around and you had been there, you would have been able to drink it."
Image via NASA