The rover, which has allowed scientists to explore whether Mars ever boasted conditions conducive to life, in 2014 made the first definitive detection of organic molecules, also in Gale crater rock formed from ancient lake sediment - but it was a much more limited set of compounds.
Finding methane in the atmosphere and ancient carbon preserved on the surface gives scientists confidence that NASA's Mars 2020 rover and ESA's (European Space Agency's) ExoMars rover will find even more organics, both on the surface and in the shallow subsurface.
Jennifer Eigenbrode, an astrobiologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who led the organics study, said she's intrigued by the possibility that life might have existed and adapted on Mars.
Curiosity also has confirmed seasonal increases of methane in the Martian atmosphere.
Methane is considered the simplest organic molecule. "Finding ancient organic molecules in the top 5 centimeters of rock that was deposited when Mars may have been habitable bodes well for us to learn the story of organic molecules on Mars with future missions that will drill deeper". The Viking Project was the first United States mission to safely land spacecraft on the Martian surface, as well as send back images.
Although there is not enough information to know whether the carbon molecules were created by biological or non-biological processes, it is possible that they could be a source of methane, Dr Eigenbrode said.
Potential contaminants were analyzed and accounted for, so the results are the most conclusive yet.
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Leading contenders have included some sort of chemical reaction based on a rock called olivine, meteorites dropping organic materials into the atmosphere, or a release from a sub-surface reservoir close to the surface. With five years of data from a single location, they now have answers. They are fairly certain that it comes from melting water-based crystals, called clathrates, buried just below the planet's surface. That could even be happening beneath the surface now, the researchers said.
NASA regularly releases news, scientific papers, and new theories related to Mars, and typically it's with very little fanfare. However, finding organic material in such abundance suggests that it potentially has biological origins-either from bacteria or other forms of life that existed long ago.
Dr Webster is also awaiting results from the current ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) mission, which is orbiting the Red Planet, sniffing methane.
The surface of Mars may be inhospitable today, but there is strong evidence that the Martian climate once accommodated liquid water - which, as most of you will know, is one of the key components to life - to pool at the surface. Its two-year mission will explore Mars to see if it's "geologically alive", or active below the surface.
"Are there signs of life on Mars?" said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, at NASA Headquarters.
Some sort of biology can't be ruled out, of course, but any kind of complex organic chemistry would still tell us something about how life arose on Earth.