NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover has found evidence of organic compounds within the Martian soil on the red planet. Samples analysed contain "water and sulfur and chlorine-containing substances, among other ingredients" for life.
Tests still have to be done to ensure that these compounds are indeginous to Mars and rule out the possibilities that these could have come from Earth with the Rover, or fallen from space. While it may not be "one for the history books" as they had hyped previously, it's still an exciting discovery, and a gateway to finding out more about the habitability of this planet.
The Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite and the Chemistry and Mieralogy (CheMin) instrument made the discovery through identifying a change in the radios of isotopes (different forms of the same element that can provide clues about environmental changes) and a higher quantity of water molecules than anticipated, which led to the tentative identification of oxygen and chlorine.
"We used almost every part of our science payload examining this drift," said Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "The synergies of the instruments and richness of the data sets give us great promise for using them at the mission's main science destination on Mount Sharp."
The next two years will now be dedicated to searching, analysing and verifying further soil & rock samples, to find out more. We await further confirmation.