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Mars Rover Confirms Habitable Environment in Distant Past

Credit: NASA image

Analyzing powdered samples drilled from the interior of a sedimentary rock, the Curiosity Mars rover has detected traces of the chemicals and compounds necessary for a habitable environment in the red planet's distant past, scientists reported Tuesday.

Whether life ever managed to evolve on Mars remains an open question, but the environment characterized by Curiosity's instruments, an area where water once flowed and pooled, could have supported microbial life as it is known on Earth.

“The key thing here is an environment a microbe could have lived in and might have even prospered in,” John Grotzinger, the Mars Science Laboratory project scientist, said during a news conference at NASA Headquarters.

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