From “Mars: Evidence of Water Flows at Ancient Impact Crater Endeavour” (ScienceDaily, May 3, 2012), we learn,
Evidence of ancient water at a Martian crater is the latest in a long series of discoveries by a surprisingly long-lived Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, according to a paper published in the May 4 edition of the journal Science entitled, “Ancient Impact and Aqueous Processes at Endeavour Crater, Mars.” The latest discovery was made at the rim of the Endeavour Crater, a large ancient impact crater on Mars measuring 14 miles in diameter.
“The rover discovered evidence for low temperature liquid water and environments that would be conducive for life,” said Scott M. McLennan, Professor of Geochemistry at Stony Brook University and a member of the team that published the paper (Steven Squyres of Cornell University headed the team and is the principal investigator for the science instruments carried by the rover). Dr. McLennan noted that this was the third area on Mars visited by the Mars rovers that has produced evidence of “habitable” ancient geological environments.
Opportunity was one of two exploration rovers that landed on Mars eight years ago for what was planned as a three-month mission. According to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Opportunity reached Endeavour Crater last August after driving for three years from another Martian crater, Victoria.
Actually, if water on Mars was of enough public importance, this evidence would function best, not as an argument for life on Mars, but for getting people, not robots, to go there. It’s a good thing that the robot isn’t getting a salary for tumbling around for three years.