CONTACT: Kathleen Haughney, University Communications (850) 644-1489; [email protected]


June 2018    


News broke this week that NASA’s Curiosity rover has found organic matter on Mars in soil samples taken from a 3 billion-year-old mudstone in the Gale crater.

The discovery is a fascinating development in the search for life outside Earth and serve as a clue for researchers about the history of the Red Planet.

FSU Professor of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science Munir Humayun has done extensive research on the geology of Mars through analysis of the planet’s meteorites.

He is available to discuss the latest discovery by NASA and its implications.

Munir Humayan, professor, Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science: (850) 644-1908; [email protected]

Humayan is a professor of geochemistry at Florida State Univeristy and on staff at the FSU-headquartered National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. Humayun has done extensive work analyzing a Martian meteorite known as Black Beauty and has been published in prestigious journals such as Nature, Science, Meteoritics & Planetary Science and Earth & Planetary Science Letters.

“That the Curiosity rover recovered organics from a drilled mudstone sample is a game changer for Mars life studies. Mars scientists have long feared that any organics would be extremely tough to find. The new organic discovery shows that there are likely far more organics within a few inches of the surface that could be drilled and returned to Earth for further study. Organic molecules offer more clues as to whether there was life on Mars (or just primordial soup), or whether Mars was equally hostile to life 3.5 billion years ago as it is today. That pessimistic possibility that has lurked as a fear at the back of everyone’s minds may just have been changed forever.”