This illustration portrays some of the reasons why finding organic chemicals on Mars is challenging. Whatever organic chemicals may be produced on Mars or delivered to Mars face several possible modes of being transformed or destroyed.
Comparing 'Cumberland' With Other Samples Analyzed by Curiosity
This graphic offers comparisons between the amount of an organic chemical named chlorobenzene detected in the 'Cumberland' rock sample and amounts of it in samples from three other Martian surface targets analyzed by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover.
Some Data from Detection of Organics in a Rock on Mars
Data graphed here are examples from the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory's detection of Martian organics in a sample of powder that the drill on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover collected from a rock target called 'Cumberland.'
This illustration portrays possible ways methane might be added to Mars' atmosphere (sources) and removed from the atmosphere (sinks). NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has detected fluctuations in methane concentration in the atmosphere.
Methane Measurements by NASA's Curiosity in Mars' Gale Crater
This graphic shows tenfold spiking in the abundance of methane in the Martian atmosphere surrounding NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, as detected by a series of measurements made with the Tunable Laser Spectrometer instrument in the rover's laboratory suite.
Tunable Laser Spectrometer on NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover
By measuring absorption of light at specific wavelengths, Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS) onboard NASA's Curiosity measures concentrations of methane, carbon dioxide and water vapor in Mars' atmosphere.
This view from the Mastcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows dramatic buttes and layers on the lower flank of Mount Sharp. It was taken on Sept. 7, 2013, from near the waypoint called 'Darwin' on the route toward an entry point to the mountain.
Cross-bedding seen in the layers of this Martian rock is evidence of movement of water recorded by the waves or ripples of loose sediment the water passed over, such as a current in a lake. This image is from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover.
This simulation depicts a lake partially filling Mars' Gale Crater, receiving runoff from snow melting on the crater's rim, showing evidence that NASA's Curiosity rover has found ancient streams, deltas and lakes.
This image depicts how a mountain inside a Mars' Gale Crater might have formed. At left, the crater fills with layers of sediment. Yellow is for deposits in alluvial fans, deltas, and drifts during both wet and dry periods.
This series of images reconstructs the geology of the region around Mars' Mount Sharp, where NASA's Curiosity Mars rover landed and is now driving. The images were taken on Earth and have been altered for the illustration.
Lozenge-shaped crystals are evident in this magnified view of a Martian rock target called 'Mojave,' taken on Nov. 15, 2014, by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. These features record concentration of dissolved salts, possibly in a drying lake.
This view from the NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows an example of cross-bedding that results from water passing over a loose bed of sediment. It was taken at a target called 'Whale Rock' within the 'Pahrump Hills' outcrop at the base of Mount Sharp.
This image from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows an example of a thin-laminated, evenly stratified rock type that occurs in the 'Pahrump Hills' outcrop at the base of Mount Sharp on Mars. This type of rock can form under a lake.
This evenly layered rock photographed by the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover on Aug. 7, 2014, shows a pattern typical of a lake-floor sedimentary deposit not far from where flowing water entered a lake.
This diagram depicts a vertical cross section through geological layers deposited by rivers, deltas and lakes. Deposits from a series of successive deltas build out increasingly high in elevation as they migrate toward the center of the basin.
Bedding Pattern Interpreted as Martian Delta Deposition
On March 25, 2014, view from the Mastcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover looks southward at the Kimberley waypoint. Multiple sandstone beds show systematic inclination to the south suggesting progressive build-out of delta sediments.
This image from Curiosity's Mastcam shows inclined beds of sandstone interpreted as the deposits of small deltas fed by rivers flowing down from the Gale Crater rim and building out into a lake where Mount Sharp is now.
Within Rover's Reach at Mars Target Area 'Alexander Hills'
This view from ASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows a swath of bedrock called 'Alexander Hills,' which the rover approached for close-up inspection of selected targets. It is a mosaic of six frames taken on Nov. 23, 2014.
Ripples Beside 'Pahrump Hills' Outcrop at Base of Mount Sharp
This northeast-facing view from the lower edge of the pale 'Pahrump Hills' outcrop at the base of Mount Sharp includes wind-sculpted ripples of sand and dust in the middle ground. It was taken by Curiosity's Navcam on Nov. 13, 2014.