The Curiosity rover traveling across the surface of Mars has stumbled across organic matter, with scientists saying they saw a tenfold spike in methane. The discovery means there must be a "relatively localized source," with many potential sources, both biological and non-biological, as Curiosity continues to drill into the Martian surface.
"This first confirmation of organic carbon in a rock on Mars holds much promise," said Roger Summons, MIT scientist and Curiosity participating researcher, in a press statement. "Organics are important because they can tell us about the chemical pathways by which they were formed and preserved. In turn, this is informative about Earth-Mars differences and whether or not particular environments represented by Gale Crater sedimentary rocks were more or less favorable for accumulation of organic materials."