Mars rover shows planet could have supported life

Mars rover shows planet could have supported life

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

This image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill.

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by ALICIA CHANG / AP Science Writer

KING5.com

Posted on March 12, 2013 at 10:58 AM

LOS ANGELES -- NASA scientists say tests on a Mars rock show the planet could have supported primitive life.

The analysis was done by the rover Curiosity, which drilled into the rock, crushed it and tested a tiny sample. The rover was the first spacecraft sent to Mars that could collect a sample from deep inside a rock.

At a briefing at NASA's Washington headquarters on Tuesday, NASA scientists said the rock contains clay minerals that formed in a watery environment -- an environment that may be favorable for microscopic organisms.

Curiosity had already found a hint of the site's watery past -- an ancient streambed that the six-wheel rover crossed to get to the flat bedrock.

The rover made a dramatic landing near the Mars equator last August for a two-year mission.

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