The Mars twin rovers are preparing to search for more evidence of water on the Red Planet. Last week, scientists announced Opportunity had found geological signs of great amounts of water, an ingredient necessary to sustain life as we know it.
The rovers Spirit and Opportunity positioned themselves at new sites to look for additional evidence that water once flowed on ancient Mars.
Opportunity uncovered geological signs of ancient water a month after the rovers landed on the surface of the dusty red planet. A detailed analysis of minerals in an exposed area of layered bedrock revealed what the twin robots were sent to find: evidence of life-sustaining water.
"Our ultimate quest on Mars is to answer the age old question - is there life, was there life, on Mars? Today's results are a giant leap toward achieving that long term goal," said NASA chief of space science, Ed Weiler.
Scientists say it is not clear whether the area scoured by Opportunity was drenched with a large body of water such as an ocean that has since evaporated, or whether water flowed through rocks formed by some sort of volcanic activity.
They hope to find answers in a second drilling operation by Opportunity on a feature called "Flat Rock." The rover rolled into position Saturday.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, Spirit crept 28 meters toward a crater called "Bonneville." Spirit has found evidence suggesting the presence of water near its landing site, but so far nothing as striking as what Opportunity has found.
Scientists do not know in either case whether the water supported some sort of life form. They hope to learn more in a planned NASA mission to bring samples of martian rock and soil to Earth by the end of the decade.