Mars rover detects hint of possible life in soil analysis
CHICAGO (AFP) - The Mars rover Curiosity has offered a tantalising taste of evidence that there was once life on the Red Planet, but scientists said on Monday it is too soon to make much of the first soil analyses.
Nasa's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instruments have been sending back information as it hunts for compounds such as methane, as well as hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, that are the building blocks of life.
Researchers were excited to detect simple organic compounds in the soil scooped up from a crusted dune. But they cautioned that the traces of carbon could have come from meteorites or even particles the instruments picked up before launch from Earth.
They hope to find more evidence of organic compounds as Curiosity makes its way across the barren, windblown sands of Rocknest towards Mount Sharp, searching for a good place to start digging deeper.