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.
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.
Fine-Grained, Finely Layered Rock at Base of Martian Mount Sharp
This patch of Martian bedrock, about 2 feet (70 centimeters) across, is finely layered rock with some pea-size inclusions. It lies near the lowest point of the 'Pahrump Hills' outcrop, which forms part of the basal layer of Mount Sharp.
Erosion Resistance at 'Pink Cliffs' at Base of Martian Mount Sharp
This small ridge, about 3 feet long, appears to resist wind erosion more than the flatter plates around it. Such differences are among the traits NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is examining at selected rock targets at the base of Mount Sharp.
Image Relayed by MAVEN Mars Orbiter from Curiosity Mars Rover
The first demonstration of NASA's MAVEN Mars orbiter's capability to relay data from a Mars surface mission, on Nov. 6, 2014, included this image, taken Oct. 23, 2014, by Curiosity's Navigation Camera, showing part of 'Pahrump Hills' outcrop.
Signature of Hematite in 'Confidence Hills' Martian Rock
This side-by-side comparison shows the X-ray diffraction patterns of two different samples collected from rocks on Mars by NASA's Curiosity rover. The images present data obtained by Curiosity's Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument (CheMin).
This image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows a sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill from the 'Confidence Hills' target -- the first rock drilled after Curiosity reached the base of Mount Sharp in September 2014.
'Confidence Hills' -- The First Mount Sharp Drilling Site
This image shows the first holes drilled by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity at Mount Sharp. The loose material near the drill holes is drill tailings and an accumulation of dust that slid down the rock during drilling.
This image from the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows an example of a type of geometrically distinctive feature that researchers are using Curiosity to examine at a mudstone outcrop at the base of Mount Sharp.
This image from the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the first sample-collection hole drilled in Mount Sharp, the layered mountain that is the science destination of the rover's extended mission.
Curiosity Mars Rover's Approach to 'Pahrump Hills'
This southeastward-looking vista from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the 'Pahrump Hills' outcrop and surrounding terrain seen from a position about 70 feet (20 meters) northwest of the outcrop.
Curiosity Mars Rover's Route from Landing to 'Pahrump Hills'
This map shows the route driven by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover from the 'Bradbury Landing' location where it landed in August 2012 to the 'Pahrump Hills' outcrop where it drilled into the lowest part of Mount Sharp.
This image, taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows the transition between the 'Murray Formation,' in which layers are poorly expressed and difficult to trace from orbit, and the hematite ridge, which is made up of continuous layers.
This image, taken NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows distinct bands of alternating tone and brightness within the 'Murray Formation' on Mars. Outcrops like this are common throughout the formation.