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Mars, the planet we know best, has interesting surface features including evidence for running water.

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A Habitable Planet

A Habitable Planet

Credit: NASA
Source: http://www.nasa.gov/content/yellowknife-bay-formation-on-mars/#.UreD_GRDvse
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

The Yellowknife Bay Formation on Mars contains a mudstone that revealed a lot to scientists about the past environment on the Red Planet.

Amazing But True!

  • No one is suggesting that there are or ever were little green men on Mars.
  • Mars was suitable for life in its past and so there may have been life.
  • Curiosity’s percussive drill collected a sample.
  • Credit: NASA
    Source: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-020
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Inside Gale Crater on Mars taken by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover - Right image gives a view of the lower stratigraphy at Yellowknife Bay [Figure2]


  • The sample was analyzed by x-rays to determine its chemistry, then by other methods to determine the proportions of compounds and the isotopes.
  • Mars definitely had water and it had an Earth-like environment.

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With the link below, learn more about life on Mars. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What was the environment of Curiosity crater in Yellowknife Bay on Mars?
  2. What is the significance of the findings?
  3. What did the chemical analyses of the sediment find? Why is this significant?
  4. What might microorganisms on Mars used as an energy source?
  5. What are scientists going to look for on Mars next?

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