Some of the best evidence to date that Mars was wetter than it is now was uncovered by the spunky NASA rover Spirit, which continues to operate long beyond its predicted lifespan. A broken wheel on the rover scraped a patch on the Martian soil, revealing a lighter area that produced a concentrated deposit of nearly pure silica. The presence of such a deposit would require the presence of water, NASA scientists say.
The three-years-and-counting mission of the Mars rovers has produced incredible images. The rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, were designed to last 90 Martian days. Click here to see a movie of a Martian dust devil. The image was created by linking a series of photographs from Spirit’s camera.
NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit captured this stunning view as the Sun sank below the rim of Gusev crater on Mars.
These missions are much more than just pretty pictures. President Bush in 2004 announced the goals of completing the International Space Station before retiring the Space Shuttle in 2010, then returning to the Moon by 2020 with manned missions as early as 2015.
“With the experience and knowledge gained on the moon, we will then be ready to take the next steps of space exploration: human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond,” Bush said.