Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Curiosity rover finds new signs that Mars could have supported life

NASA's Curiosity rover has detected yet another ingredient for life on Mars: nitrogen that would have been usable by living organisms. Nitrogen is required for all life on Earth, but it has to be in a certain "fixed" state before it's accessible to many forms of life, like plants. That's the way researchers found it in samples collected on Mars. The finding suggests that Mars could have supported a nitrogen cycle, which on Earth involves bacteria creating fixed nitrogen, which then works its way into plants, and eventually back into the soil, where the cycle repeats. In Mars' case, the found nitrogen likely arose from lightning strikes or heat from an impact. But the researchers say that it's enough to warrant continued research into...

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