An analysis of a rock sample collected by NASA’s Curiosity rover shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes.

Scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon–some of the key chemical ingredients for life–in the powder Curiosity drilled out of a rock near an ancient stream bed there.

Mars researcher John Grotzinger says, "We have characterized a very ancient, but strangely new ‘gray Mars,’ where conditions once were favorable for life. Curiosity is on a mission of discovery and exploration, and as a team we feel there are many more exciting discoveries ahead of us in the months and years to come."
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NASA’s Curiosity rover has bored into a Martian rock and pulled out its first sample of the planet’s insides to analyze. This could be the first step to mining Mars.

In New Scientist, Lisa Grossman quotes NASA’s Louise Jandura as saying, "This is the only time anybody’s drilled into Mars. Getting deeper into the rock allows us to unlock a kind of time capsule into what Mars was like 3 or 4 billion years ago."
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Will life on Mars go the way of the dinosaurs before we have a chance to discover it? Incoming Comet C213/A1, discovered on January 1st, is expected by some astronomers to pass within 28,000 miles of Marsin 2014. But cometary trajectories change, and an impact is not impossible, although NASA estimates that the object will pass Mars at a distance more like 80,000 miles.

Should it hit the planet, it will cause a spectacular explosion, releasing the equivalent energy of billion megatons of TNT. This is roughly the size of the blast that climaxed the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
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