NASA Curiosity rover digs Mars, finds sulfur, chlorine and organic traces of unknown origin

Since NASA's Curiosity rover made its way to Mars, it's been sending back a wealth of data from our rust-colored planetary neighbor: landscape photos, radiation readings and even evidence of liquid water. We can now add soil composition to the list, as Curiosity became Earth's first visitor to the Red Planet to both gather and analyze Martian soil on its own.

What's Mars made of? Well, after scooping up some loose sand, Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite and the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instruments found a menagerie of chemicals, including sulfur, chlorine, and traces of carbon-based materials. Don't get carried away thinking there's life on Mars just yet, however, because NASA's boffins aren't sure the organic molecules are native -- they may have come from Earth on this, or a previous mission. Still, the analysis is a significant step in unlocking Mars' secrets, and the high quality data resulting from it will keep NASA's best and brightest busy as Curiosity continues sampling Martian dirt in the coming months. Those interested in learning more can check out the source below or tune into the press conference after the break.