This gray powder from inside a Martian “mudstone” contains sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorous and carbon—all chemical ingredients for life as we know it on Earth and a major target of the $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. In a first for planetary science, the mission's nuclear-powered Curiosity rover drilled the hole at left, after a test run to the right, and transferred some of the powder to its internal chemistry labs. The sample also contained clays ...

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