Scientists believe that the Curiosity Rover has collected very promising data in the search for life elsewhere in the universe.
The machine, which has been on the Red Planet since August 2012, has collected samples from a crater which shows convincing signs that Mars could home life or once did.
Samples from a spot known as the Gale Crater shows that there is an abundance of mineral deposits which provide evidence that there was once water and that environmental conditions are suitable for life.
John Grotzinger, a geologist from the California Institute of Technology, was speaking at the annual American Geophysical Union in San Francisco when he said: “We see all of the properties in place that we really like to associate with habitability.
“There’s nothing extreme here. This is all good for habitability over time.”
The Curiosity Rover is taking samples every 25 metres along the Gale Crater – the lowest point on Mars which has led scientists to believe that there was once a great lake there.
The upper layers of the crater contain a large amount of oxidising hematite, which suggests that it was once acidic.
However, the crater is, according to Mr Grotzinger, “acidic but never super acidic. It’s totally the kind of environment where an acidophilic organism could enjoy it.”
The Rover has also identified a heap of minerals and boron, which on Earth is associated with the formation of RNA – one of the essential building blocks of life along with DNA and proteins.
Mr Grotzinger added: “We are seeing chemical complexity indicating a long, interactive history with the water. The more complicated the chemistry is, the better it is for habitability.
“The boron, hematite and clay minerals underline the mobility of elements and electrons, and that is good for life.”