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July 18, 2012: With all the fanfare about Mars rover Curiosity landing on the Red Planet in August 2012, it’s easy to forget that there’s already a rover on Mars—an older, smaller cousin set to accomplish a feat unprecedented in the history of Solar System exploration.
Mars rover Opportunity is on track to complete the first extraterrestrial marathon.
A marathon is 26.2 miles. When Opportunity landed on Mars in 2004, NASA’s goal was to have the rover travel a meager 600 meters. However, no one knew what kind of “runner” Opportunity would turn out to be. As of July 2012, Opportunity has traveled almost 22 miles – only 4.2 miles short of a full marathon.
When the marathoner reached Endeavour Crater in August 2011, things got interesting.
"Endeavor is surrounded by fractured sedimentary rock, and the cracks are filled with gypsum. Gypsum forms when ground water comes up and fills cracks in the ground, depositing hydrated calcium sulfate. This is the best evidence we've ever found for liquid water on Mars."
The gypsum veins were likely formed in conditions more pH-neutral and possibly more hospitable to life: Jackpot!
But this marathoner isn't done. Opportunity is doing so well that 26.2 miles might not be the finish line after all.
"We have no plans to stop running," says Arvidson.
Extraterrestrial ultra-marathon anyone?
Originally posted by phroziac
As cold as mars is how come the solar panels dont become permanently damaged?
Remember the picture of the supposed forest?
If theres liquid water on mars, which everything seems to point to, even if not much, and since it gets up to 80 degrees according to nasa.....then why the hell is it so difficult to think thosw might be trees?
Because there isn't (at least as far as I know) any liquid water, but everything points to having existed in the past.
"These dark lineations are different from other types of features on Martian slopes," said Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project Scientist Richard Zurek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Repeated observations show they extend ever farther downhill with time during the warm season."
These results are the closest scientists have come to finding evidence of liquid water on the planet's surface today. Frozen water, however has been detected near the surface in many middle to high-latitude regions. Fresh-looking gullies suggest slope movements in geologically recent times, perhaps aided by water. Purported droplets of brine also appeared on struts of the Phoenix Mars Lander. If further study of the recurring dark flows supports evidence of brines, these could be the first known Martian locations with liquid water.