- (Photo: HANDOUT / REUTERS)
NASA's Opportunity Mars Rover discovered evidence of water on Mars and scientists are now believing the Red Planet once supported life.
Launching in 2003, the Opportunity rover has spent the last decade studying the planet's surface and sending NASA reports and data. In 2010, a second rover named Spirit stopped being useful after getting stuck in Martian soil.
The Opportunity rover found evidence of water in a cracked rock in Cape York, a site on Mars, reported The International Business Times. Scientists believe the rock had been changed by water due to the levels of erosion seen.
"What's so special about Esperance [the rock] is that there was enough water not only for reactions that produced clay minerals, but also enough to flush out ions set loose by those reactions, so that Opportunity can clearly see the alteration," Steve Squyres from Cornell University told the IBTimes.
Scientists have previously found evidence of water on Mars, but those samples contained acid and were not suitable for life. This new sample is not.
"Water that moved through fractures during this rock's history would have provided more favorable conditions for biology than any other wet environment recorded in rocks Opportunity has seen," Squyres said in a teleconference with Space.com. "This is water you could drink."
The Curiosity rover found evidence of microbial life back in March and with all these discoveries, it could mean the overall planet has transitioned from warm and wet to cold and dry.
"All the details need to be worked out, but the more we look, the more it fits into this kind of broad context,"said the Mars programs deputy investigator Ray Arvidson.
NASA is doing all it can to get information quickly because of the possibility of the machine failing at any moment.
"The rover could have a catastrophic failure at any moment," project manager John Callas told the Huffington Post.