(NECN: Jennifer Eagan) - NASA scientists say they have hit paydirt. The rover Curiosity collected the most concrete evidence yet that the Red Planet could have supported life.
"This is the only definitively habitable environment that we have recorded," one scientist said.
Seven months ago, the rover Curiosity landed on Mars. The self contained science lab, which is about the size of a small car, drilled down about 2.5 inches in a part of Mars dubbed Yellowknife Bay. The rover dug up a gray green powder; contained in that sample, the rover found minerals and elements scientists say are needed to support life.
There is also proof Mars was once awash in water.
"We have found a habitable environment that is so benign and supportive of life that probably if this water was around and you had been on the planet you would have been able to drink it," said Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger.
Scientist gathered to make the announcement from Washington, D.C. say there could have been microbes thriving on Mars at the same time life began to spring up on Earth, give or take 100 million years.
The $2.5 billion rover will continue its mission. It is now headed toward a nearby mountain on Mars to collect more data.