This NASA photo released June 7, 2018 shows a low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover vehicle: AFP Photo/NASA
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New Mars discoveries are advancing the case for possible life on the red planet, past or even present.The organic molecules preserved in 3.5 billion-year-old bedrock in Gale Crater -- believed to once contain a shallow lake the size of Florida's Lake Okeechobee -- suggest conditions back then may have been conducive to life.Kirsten Siebach, a Rice University geologist who also was not involved in the studies, is equally excited. She said the discoveries break down some of the strongest arguments put forward by life-on-Mars skeptics, herself included. Scientists agree more powerful spacecraft -- and, ideally, rocks returned to Earth from Mars -- are needed to prove whether tiny organisms like bacteria ever existed on the red planet.Curiosity's methane measurements occurred over 4.5 Earth years, covering parts of three Martian years. Scientists have been seeking organic molecules on Mars ever since the 1976 Viking landers.Arriving at Mars in 2012 with a drill and its own onboard labs, Curiosity confirmed the presence of organics in rocks in 2013, but the molecules weren't exactly what scientists expected.
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