This image released by NASA shows the Curiosity rover holding a scoop of powdered rock on Mars. The rover recently drilled into a Martian rock for the first time and transferred a pinch of powder to its instruments to analyze the chemical makeup. (AP Photo/NASA)
Updated: March 12, 2013 2:39PM
LOS ANGELES — NASA scientists say tests on a Mars rock show the planet could have supported primitive life.
The analysis was done by the rover Curiosity, which drilled into the rock, crushed it and tested a tiny sample. The rover was the first spacecraft sent to Mars that could collect a sample from deep inside a rock.
At a briefing at NASA’s Washington headquarters on Tuesday, NASA scientist said the rock contains clay minerals that formed in a watery environment — an environment that may be favorable for microscopic organisms.
Curiosity had already found a hint of the site’s watery past — an ancient streambed that the six-wheel rover crossed to get to the flat bedrock.
The rover made a dramatic landing near the Mars equator last August for a two-year mission.