Mars rover deploys final instrument

Soil analysis finds organic compounds of uncertain origin

By Alexandra Witze, 17:53 PM December 3, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO — It took more than three months, but NASA’s Curiosity rover has sent back its first complete tests of Mars’ windswept soil. In it, mission scientists have spotted chemical compounds that include chlorine, hydrogen and, tantalizingly, carbon.

Organic compounds contain carbon and are sometimes associated with life. But scientists can’t say yet whether the carbon Curiosity detected came from Mars or was carried from Earth by the rover.

Curiosity also found that the Martian surface i...

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