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Question Of Life Beyond Earth Piqued With New Discovery On Mars

By Karen Morfitt

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) - NASA scientists say the Curiosity Rover discovered new clues in the search for life on Mars.

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(credit: NASA)

"I think everyone has an interest in the question of life elsewhere," University of Colorado professor Bruce Jakosky said. "It tells us about how widespread life could be in the universe."

Jakosky is also the principal investigator for Maven, a separate Mars mission focused on the planet's atmosphere.

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CBS4's Karen Morfitt interviews CU Professor Bruce Jakosky. (credit: CBS)

"All of these space craft play together in the sense that each one tells us about a component of the Martian environment system. All the different components interact to tell us whether or not Mars could have been habitable," he said.

According to NASA, Curiosity is the size of small car and the most technologically advanced rover ever built.

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(credit: NASA)

With 17 cameras and a robotic arm, which helps collect and analyze samples, the rover discovered organic molecules.

The molecules were found preserved in the rocks of an ancient lake bed known as Gale Crater.

Jakosky says the findings reinforce the idea that Mars may have been able to support life more than three billion years ago.

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(credit: NASA)

"What we're seeing on Mars is something that tells us that either life was present or that the building blocks that could be built into life were present," he said.

It is a discovery that has reignited the mystery of Mars here on Earth.

"It really focuses attention on the question of possible life and that's really the underlying question here," Jakosky said.

Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.


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