The team working with the NASA Curiosity rover has released an interesting new result today. The robotic rover has drilled into rocks on the surface of Mars, and its Sample Analysis at Mars and Chemistry and Mineralogy instruments have determined that at some point in history the surface could have supported microbial life.

In the ground up sample, the scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon - all of which are considered chemical ingredients for life. The sample was taken in the Gale Crate, in the Yellowknife Bay area, which appears to be a former river bed or possibly an ancient lake. Furthermore, the experiments found both clay and calcium sulfate, which tends to indicate that the water was not overly acidic or overly alkaline, and that it wasn't overly salty, all of which would be necessary for life.

However it is important to mention that none of this proves the existence of life, but it has proven that at some point in the past the surface of Mars had the correct conditions to support the development of primordial life forms. Much more research will be needed before we can truly claim extraterrestrial life.

The official release is located here.