Mars Rover Collects Soil Samples; Finds Organic Traces of Unknown Origin

December 4th, 2012 at 3:26 am

Since its landing on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover has been sending back valuable data about our nearby planetary neighbor, beaming landscape photos, radiation measurements, and even evidence of liquid water. Its latest collection: soil composition, making Curiosity the first visitor from Earth to the Red Planet to gather and analyze the planet’s soil on its own.

So what does Mars’ soil made of? After scooping an ample amount of loose sand, Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite and the Chemistry and Mineralogy instruments discover that it is composed of various chemicals, including sulfur, chlorine, and trace amounts of carbon-based materials.

Don’t get too excited about the prospect of life on Mars, since NASA remains unsure whether these organic materials are native or may have come from Earth via this rover, or in previous missions. Nevertheless, this finding is another step in unlocking the secrets of this intriguing planet.

Curiosity will continue to sample Martian soil in the coming months.

Source: NASA, via Engadget


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