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This illustration depicts Martian water reservoirs.
Illustration of Martian Water Reservoirs
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The Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) is a powerful set of three instruments onboard the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover that work together to investigate the chemistry of the Martian surface and atmosphere within Gale Crater.
SAM Instrument Suite, at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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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.
Mars Has Ways to Make Organics Hard to Find
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This graphic offers comparisons between the amount of an organic chemical named chlorobenzene detected in the "Cumberland" rock sample and amounts of the same compound in samples from three other Martian surface targets analyzed by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover.
Comparing 'Cumberland' With Other Curiosity Samples
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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."
Data from Detection of Organics in a Rock on Mars
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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, implying both types of activity occur on modern Mars.
Possible Methane Sources and Sinks
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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 Sample Analysis at Mars laboratory suite.
Methane Measurements by NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover
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This graphic shows the Tunable Laser Spectrometer, one of the tools within the Sample Analysis at Mars laboratory on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. By measuring absorption of light at specific wavelengths, it measures concentrations of methane, carbon dioxide and water vapor in Mars' atmosphere.
Tunable Laser Spectrometer on Curiosity Mars Rover
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NASA's MAVEN mission is observing the upper atmosphere of Mars to help understand climate change on the planet. MAVEN entered its science phase on Nov. 16, 2014.
MAVEN at the Limb of Mars, Artist's Concept
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Details of hilly terrain within a large Martian canyon are shown on a geological map based on observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and produced by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Geological Mapping of Hills in Martian Canyon
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Details of hilly terrain within a large Martian canyon are shown on a geological map based on observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and produced by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Geological Mapping of Hills in Martian Canyon
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NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is continuing its traverse southward on the western rim of Endeavour Crater during the fall of 2014, stopping to investigate targets of scientific interest along way. This view is from Opportunity's front hazard avoidance camera on Nov. 26, 2014.
Opportunity Pausing at a Bright Outcrop
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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.
Mount Sharp Buttes and Layers From Near 'Darwin'
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Cross-bedding seen in the layers of this Martian rock is evidence of movement of water recorded by waves or ripples of loose sediment the water passed over.
Martian Rock's Evidence of Lake Currents (Labeled)
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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 was acquired by the Mastcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on Nov. 2, 2014.
Martian Rock's Evidence of Lake Currents
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This simulation depicts a lake partially filling Mars' Gale Crater, receiving runoff from snow melting on the crater's rim. Evidence that NASA's Curiosity rover has found of ancient streams, deltas and lakes suggests the crater held a lake such as this more than three billion years ago.
Simulated View of Gale Crater Lake on Mars
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This diagram illustrates how Mount Sharp in Gale Crater, Mars, where NASA's Curiosity rover is now driving, might have formed billions of years ago.
Sedimentation and Erosion in Gale Crater, Mars
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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, taken on Earth, have been altered for the illustration of how sediments can accumulate in alternating dry periods and wet periods.
Sediment Accumulation in Dry and Wet Periods
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Lozenge-shaped crystals are evident in this magnified view of a Martian rock target called "Mojave," taken on Nov. 15, 2014, by the Mars Hand Lens Imager on the arm of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. These features record concentration of dissolved salts, possibly in a drying lake.
Crystals May Have Formed in Drying Martian Lake
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This view from the Mastcam on 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 Nov. 2, 2014, at a target called "Whale Rock" within the "Pahrump Hills" outcrop at the base of Mount Sharp.
Cross-Bedding at 'Whale Rock' (Labeled)
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This view from the Mastcam on 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 Nov. 2, 2014, at a target called "Whale Rock" within the "Pahrump Hills" outcrop at the base of Mount Sharp.
Cross-Bedding at 'Whale Rock'
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This image 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. The Mastcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover acquired this view on Oct. 28, 2014. This type of rock can form under a lake.
Thin-Laminated Rock in 'Pahrump Hills' Outcrop (Labeled)
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This image 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. The Mastcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover acquired this view on Oct. 28, 2014. This type of rock can form under a lake.
Thin-Laminated Rock in 'Pahrump Hills' Outcrop
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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, over lake deposits.
Multiple Deltas Built Out Over Time (Labeled)
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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.
Sedimentary Signs of a Martian Lakebed
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