On Thursday, NASA's Mars Curiosity rover identified what are believed to be rocks moved by water that once flowed on the Red Planet. Curiosity's further exploration is hoped to determine whether Mars was once inhabited by microorganisms.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.
NASA's Mars rover, Curiosity, dispatched to learn if the most Earth-like planet in the solar system was suitable for microbial life, has found clear evidence its landing site was once awash in water, a key ingredient for life, scientists said Thursday.
Curiosity, a roving chemistry laboratory the size of a small car, touched down on Aug. 6 inside a giant impact basin near the planet's equator. The primary target for the two-year mission is a three-mile (five-km) -high mound of layered rock rising from the floor of Gale Crater.
Scientists suspect the mound, known as Mount Sharp, is the remains of sediment that once completely filled the crater. Analysis of a slab of rock located between the crater's north rim and the base of Mount Sharp indicate a fast-moving stream of water once flowed there.
Images taken by Curiosity and released on Thursday show rounded stones cemented into the rock, which rises like a piece of jack-hammered sidewalk from the planet's surface.