And that did the trick.
Is this the discovery of Martians? What they found are organic molecules but not something in a molecular form that is important for life.
Two recent discoveries from Mars - one from the surface and one in the atmosphere - are the latest evidence that the Red Planet could have once supported life, according to NASA. In this case, the scientists couldn't tell how these organics were formed.
Although the surface of Mars is inhospitable today, there is clear evidence that in the distant past, the Martian climate allowed liquid water - an essential ingredient for life as we know it - to pool at the surface.
"Even nowadays on Earth, we see a large influx of extraterrestrial [organic] material in the form of interplanetary dust and meteorites", ten Kate said.
NASA actually isn't looking for life on Mars right now.
"That would be exciting because if that is done within two years, NASA can send a mission specifically to that place", he said. "We didn't want to fund an incredibly expensive mission and come up short again". "It's on the table with all the other ones", Dr. Eigenbrode said. So what if scientists were able to drill 10 meters, 100 meters, 1,000 meters?
"Viking was this sort of shot in the dark", says David Grinspoon, an astrobiologist with the Planetary Science Institute. "The first one would be life, which we don't know about".
Clearly, there are more questions about Mars that need answering. The rock samples were analyzed by SAM, which uses an oven to heat the samples (in excess of 900 degrees Fahrenheit, or 500 degrees Celsius) to release organic molecules from the powdered rock. Finding organics is critical. Organic material can be produced without life. In chemistry, almost all molecules containing both carbon and hydrogen are organic compounds.
NASA now operates three orbiters and two surface rovers at Mars with a new lander - InSight - on the way. They could even have been transported from elsewhere in the solar system. Regardless of how these molecules originated, they are a key sign of habitability.
On top of that, after keeping close tabs on methane levels in the Martian atmosphere, scientists have finally confirmed something weird is definitely going on, and they think they know what's causing it.
The methane is cool, whether it's linked to life or not. Methane is another organic molecule.
Nasa is now revealing the latest findings of its Curiosity Rover at a press conference. She pointed out that the surface of Mars is regularly exposed to space radiation, and that radiation and chemicals typically break down organic matter. But the planned ExoMars 2020 rover, part of a joint mission of the European Space Agency and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, will have a drill that can reach a depth of about 6.5 feet. The Wikipedia article on "organic matter" makes the point: "Organic molecules can also be made by chemical reactions that don't involve life".
"What this new study is showing in some detail is the discovery of complex and diverse organic compounds in the sediments". That next step is to try to figure out if life is involved.
Researchers can not yet say whether their discovery stems from life or a more mundane geological process. "Whether there was in the past or not is certainly an open question".
But Curiosity has discovered "tough" organic molecules from an ancient lake bed inside Gale Crater, showing lakes may have existed for "maybe hundreds or thousands of years".
The next stage might not be just about past life, Pontefract says. "But it doesn't tell us that life was there".
"The unbelievable consistency of the results makes me think we have a slam-dunk signal for organics on Mars". And, she says, it gives us an idea where to look.
"As temperatures change from winter to summer, the methane changes greatly because as the surface gets a little bit warmer it releases a lot more methane", he said. "And Mars always surprises us".