Evidence of Martian Life May Be Waiting In this Scoop of Dirt

Like a Danish gourmet, the Mars Curiosity Rover is about to eat a scoop of ground dirt—the one you can see here. This is the first sample of powdered Martian rock extracted using the rover's drill.

This image—obtained by by Curiosity's Mast Camera on Feb. 20, or Sol 193, Curiosity's 193rd Martian day of operations—shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill. The image was taken after the sample was transferred from the drill to the rover's scoop. In planned subsequent steps, the sample will be sieved, and portions of it delivered to the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument and the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument.

I know, I know, it's just some powdered rock, right? RIGHT? NO. WRONG. It's not just some rock.

Let me remind some of you of a few facts here (you know who you are, you short-attention-span ungrateful whiners): a team of awesome engineers put an awesome SUV-sized rover on the surface of awesome Mars, one of most challenging and most awesome space feats since the days of the Apollo program.

But not only that's awesome. The awesomerest fact is that she is still up there working perfectly, her machinery functioning like clockwork. EVERY. SINGLE. FUCKING. DAY.

Hold on, I'm not finished yet. This is why you should really really REALLY care about this: each and every one of these scoops may discover evidence of extraterrestrial life in another planet.

Is that awesome enough for you?

I thought so. Stop shrugging and think about this mind-blowing human accomplishment. That and about the fact that this scoop of Martian dirt must be delicious. [NASA]