Life-Giving Elements Found on Mars!

Curiosity_drillingsCuriosity has just finished analyzing the samples collected from its first drilling operation at the John Klein rock formation in Yellowknife Bay. And what it found confirms what scientists have suspected about the Red Planet for some time. Contained within grey the dust collected from the rock’s interior, the rover discovered some of the key chemical ingredients necessary for life to have thrived on early Mars billions of years ago.

After running the two aspirin-sized samples through its two analytical chemistry labs (SAM and CheMin), the Mars Science Laboratory was able to identify the presence of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus in the sample – all of which are essential constituents for life as we know it based on organic molecules.

Curiosity_chemWhat’s more, according to David Blake – the principal investigator for the CheMin instrument – a large portion of the sample was made up of clay minerals, which in itself is telling. The combined presence of these basic elements and abundant phyllosilicate clay minerals indicate that the area was once home to a fresh water environment, one where Martian microbes could once have thrived in the distant past.

By confirming this, the Curiosity Rover has officially met one of its most important research goals – proving that all the elements necessary for life to flourish were once present on Mars. And when you consider that the Curiosity team was not expecting to find evidence of phyllosilicate minerals in the Gale Crater, the find was an especial delight. Based on spectral observations conducted from orbit, phyllosilicates were only expected to be found in the lower reaches of Mount Sharp, which is Curiosity’s ultimate destination.

Curiosity-Sol-169_5C1b_Ken-KremerSo what’s next for Curiosity? According to John Grotzinger, the Principal Investigator for the Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity will remain in the Yellowknife Bay area for several additional weeks or months to fully characterize the area. The rover will also conduct at least one more drilling campaign to try and replicate the results, check for organic molecules and search for new discoveries.


20 thoughts on “Life-Giving Elements Found on Mars!

  1. Now all we need is a terraformer to turn those elements into an atmosphere or something. But first…we must solve our own planet’s problems! If we do not, we are doomed to perish no matter where we go! Are you with me, citizens of the Earth, and fellow-creatures of life?

    1. Bah! If we’re going to wait on something like that, we’ll never colonize anywhere at anytime. Getting to another world is as much about escaping them as finding solutions to our problems here. And I for one would like the idea of sending some of our fellow primates away. Go away, children of Earth. Greener pastures on the Red Planet!

      1. Fine, we’ll bring grass, set it up in the luxury cookie-cutter boxes we’ll set up for them, and then advertise online. Luxury homes, lots of room, air is passably breathable, but way cleaner. Buyers market!

      2. Sure, for several billion a transport ship and hundreds of millions in tickets and real estate. None of that money should be used for helping save the planet Earth or solving its problems!
        Note my sarcasm.

      3. Oh, I’m sorry. How about some good news? Stephen King’s science-fiction/horror epic “Under the Dome” will be premiering as a TV miniseries this June! And I learned a new sci-fi term yesterday: Elseworlds! And I’m getting closer and closer everyday to buying an e-reader. The first books I plan to download onto it are Whiskey Delta, Pappa Zulu, and Data Miners!

      4. Oh yeah, forgot to mention that arguably, we won’t be able to do any of this until we do get our act together down here. If we send people away in a hurry, it’ll be because we know for a fact we’re going to die tomorrow. Right now, looks like we got to the end of the century, depending on what we do in the meantime.

  2. The only people who would really be able to afford the move would be the really rich, which would not be enough of a populations reduction. Unless they paid for the removal of ‘peons’ so they would have less of the less advantaged people to look at when they go about their daily business. Hmm, the return of the ‘indenture’ to pay off one’s travel fees. Way to expensive to ship away criminals. No ‘Mars is a Harsh Mistress’ there.

  3. Well, I’d go, personally. One of the stories that always caught my imagination as a kid, was one of a little girl that lived on Saturn or somewhere, and all the other kids were mean to her and locked her in a closet for the only day of sunlight that would occur that year, or whatever. Do you know the story? I’m dregging this out of my deepest memories and I’m pretty sure I have most of it wrong…that being said….bring Mars on. I’d go. In a heartbeat.

    1. Oh yeah… but I think it was Earth, it was just that the sun was blocked out by constant cloud cover. And all they did was talk about the sun in class. And she saw it when she was young, and the other kids resented her for it and so forth. Sounds like the one I saw in grade school.

      1. Found it! It is called All Summer in a Day, and it was originally a short story by Ray Bradbury that got adapted into a TV film. And you’re right, the story takes place on Venus where the Sun shines for only two hours ever seven years. And only the girl remembers because was originally from Earth.

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