Martian Life

For a long time there has been speculation of whether there is or was life on Mars. A really good answer would have been to have one of the Mars rover devices to photograph something moving about and obviously alive. Well that did not happen so a search for more subtle clues of smaller life forms or something from the deep past is in progress. The next rover to be delivered to Mars will contain a SAM. The instrument is Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM, built by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. At the carefully selected landing site for the Mars rover named Curiosity, one of SAM’s key jobs will be to check for carbon-containing compounds called organic molecules, which are among the building blocks of life on Earth. The clean-room suits worn by Curiosity’s builders at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., are just part of the care being taken to keep biological material from Earth from showing up in results from SAM.

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