Washington: The first rock sample collected by NASA's Curiosity rover
shows ancient Mars could have been home to primitive life forms,
agency officials have announced.
"A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could
have supported a habitable environment. From what we know now, the
answer is yes," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars
Exploration Programme, during a press conference Tuesday.
The announcement followed an analysis of rock samples taken last
month when Curiosity used its robotic arm to drill into an ancient
Martian stream bed near Gale Crater, an unexplored region where
the robotic spacecraft first landed in August.
With the help of onboard tools, Curiosity found the samples were
composed of chemical elements needed to sustain life, including
sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorous and carbons.
Scientists said the resulting data is the first "clear evidence"
that primitive Mars could have supported life.