SCIENCE
12/03/2012 01:22 pm ET Updated Dec 03, 2012

Organics On Mars: Curiosity Rover Finds Evidence Of Organic Compounds On Red Planet

A team of scientists announced on Monday that the Mars Rover Curiosity had found evidence of organic compounds on the Red Planet.

Martian soil samples analyzed aboard the rover revealed "water and sulfur and chlorine-containing substances," the space agency said in press materials.

Scientists will now have to determine whether the compounds are indigenous to Mars. There is a possibility that the organics could have come to Mars from Earth aboard the rover. There is also a chance that they could be materials that had fallen to Mars from space.

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Scientists made the announcement on the first day of the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, an annual conference that runs through Friday.

Speculation as to the nature of the announcement was rampant in the days leading up to the conference. John Grotzinger, the principal investigator on the Curiosity mission, recently told NPR the data from an analysis of Martian soil "is gonna be one for the history books."

But NASA last week issued a press release calling "rumors and speculation that there are major new findings" from the Curiosity mission "incorrect."

Curiosity, a 1-ton roving science laboratory, arrived on Mars in August. The 354-million-mile journey to the Red Planet took more than eight months.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates.

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