Our little Curiosity rover is all grown up now. Sitting on the surface of Mars, it has gone to work analyzing soil samples collected from a drift known as Rocknest. The sampling at this location served two purposes. One, it tested the equipment and provided data. Two, the fine sand particles were used to scrub the equipment of any lingering substances that came with the rover from Earth.
"We have no definitive detection of Martian organics at this point, but we will keep looking in the diverse environments of Gale Crater," said SAM Principal Investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
"We used almost every part of our science payload examining this drift," said Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "The synergies of the instruments and richness of the data sets give us great promise for using them at the mission's main science destination on Mount Sharp."
While not fully detecting organic compounds from life, the tool set did detect "the oxygen and chlorine compound perchlorate." This chemical, combined with with others, was heated in SAM and formed chlorinated methane compounds. So, while there does appear to be organic materials on Mars, it's not definitive evidence of life.
Check out the source link, direct from NASA, for more information.
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