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Newly discovered carbon may yield clues to ancient Mars

NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars on Aug. 6, 2012, and since then has roamed Gale Crater taking samples and sending the results back home for researchers to interpret. Analysis of carbon isotopes in sediment samples taken from half a dozen exposed locations, including an exposed cliff, leave researchers with three plausible explanations for the carbon's origin — cosmic dust, ultraviolet degradation of carbon dioxide, or ultraviolet degradation of biologically produced methane.

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A selfie taken by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on Sol 2291 at the "Rock Hall" drill site,