Scientists Make Huge Discovery On Mars

Opportunity rover, the NASA Mars rover that landed on the Red Planet nearly eight years ago, managed to find the strongest ever evidence that there were rivers of liquid water on the planet’s surface, Cornell University scientists said at the 2011 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting. The rover unearthed a bright mineral vein close to the Endeavour crater, which contains gypsum deposited by water a couple of billions of years ago, scientific investigator Steve Squyres told journalists.

Water Mars

Opportunity is still exploring the Mars surface after its planned life was only three months, just like the its twin-rover, Spirit, with which NASA lost communication only recently. Both rovers were designed to explore the surface of Mars, including for signs of water, and NASA engineers were more than surprised to witness both robots operate for such a long period.

The important discovery marks the first time when sulphates are found on the place where they have formed long ago. Water flowed through a fracture in the rock, signaling that liquid water existed on Mars, a discovery that has shaken the entire scientific community, Squires said.

The deposit has been examined through Opportunity’s Microscopic Imager, Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer and multiple filters incorporated into its mast camera., all indicating that the vein is relatively pure hydrated calcium sulphate.

At present, the Opportunity rover is preparing to face its fifth winter on Mars when its operations will be slowed down to conserve energy as the amount of sunlight used to fuel its mechanisms is reduced during the winter months.


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