NASA Finds Mars Had Habitable Environments

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NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

This panorama is a mosaic of images taken by the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on the NASA Mars rover Curiosity while the rover was working at a site called "Rocknest" in October and November 2012.

There's new evidence that Mars could have supported life at some point. Scientists knew there had been water on Mars, but weren't sure if it was too acidic -- and the rest of the environment too harsh -- for life as we know it to survive. Now they've established that water on Mars was fresh enough that we might have been able to drink it, and that the planet could have supported microbial life in the past.

The Chemistry and Minerology instrument, or CheMin, developed at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, was key to the discovery. David Blake, the principal investigator for CheMin, said this is the first hard evidence that an extraterrestrial place could support life.

"I think this is probably the only definitely habitable environment that we've described and recorded," he said. "There are places we would suggest could be habitable, but we haven't measured there."

Curiosity's research will continue as it searches for more types of habitable environments.

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