What did NASA find on Mars?
The data coming back from the Curiosity rover reveals that the lake that previously filled the planet's Gale Crater -- where Curiosity landed back in 2012 -- contained complex organic molecule at one point. Though, it wasn't recent. It was likely somewhere around 3.5 billion years ago.
The organic molecules contain carbon and hydrogen, and "also may include oxygen, nitrogen, and other elements," NASA said in the announcement. These are the building blocks of life. However, they can be yielded through non-biological processes as well, so it's not hard evidence of life.
Even if it's not the hard evidence many are hoping for, it's a major discovery and will guide NASA's ongoing exploration of the fourth planet from the sun.
"This is an important finding," says Samuel Kounaves, a Tufts University chemist and former lead scientist for NASA's Phoenix Mars lander. "There are locations, especially subsurface, where organic molecules are well-preserved."