Science & Astronomy
13. March 2013

Contrary to the popular opinion, the Mars Science Laboratory alias the Curiosity Rover is not actually looking for life on Mars, but for the conditions that could have life allowed to exist. And now it looks like this part of the mission was a success: yesterday NASA had announced the results of the drill sample taken earlier in February, saying that they measured sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon in it, some ingredients which could have formed life. And with the already established fact that Curiosity is actually standing in a dried-out riverbed, this could mean that microbacterial life had really once existed on Mars.

After what Emily Lakdawalla had called the Curiosity Kerfuffle in December, when a few inadvertent words from a member of the science team had led the media believe that they had actually found evidence of life on Mars, the scientists have become very careful. The fact that they are now so absolutely sure about their really monumental discovery is a very good sign and it is not only possible, but very sure that they have now found the evidence they were looking for. But what does that mean for the mission? Actually, this will just be the beginning – the rover still has a long life ahead and many more samples will be taken and analyzed.

Some additional media links: Emily Lakdawalla has a very detailed report up, Alan Boyle on his NBC Cosmic Log also, and of course there’s Universe Today and from the newspapers the Guardian and even Spiegel Online have shorter, but easier to understand articles posted. A surprisingly moderate reaction from the media, but this should really be much bigger news.

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