Brussels, 10 Aug 2004
Scientists studying geological findings from the rover Spirit's first three months on Mars have found evidence of a history of volcanic blanketing, impact cratering and wind effects on the "red planet," according to a press release published August 5 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Agency.
In the August 6 edition of the journal "Science," 11 reports by 120 collaborating authors from around the world also found evidence for liquid water in mineral alteration in the veins, inclusions and coatings of some rocks.
From early January to April, Spirit's toolkit of geological instruments gathered a record from rocks and soils in the rover's landing area. Spirit is one of two space rovers exploring Mars, the other being Opportunity.
"This is the first batch," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, principal investigator for the science payload on both Mars exploration rovers. "You'll be seeing a lot more publications in months ahead and, no doubt, for many years to come based on information from Spirit and Opportunity. These machines just keep going and going, so the science just keeps coming and coming."
The rovers finished 3-month primary missions in April, but have continued operating on extended science missions, more than twice as long as their original assignments. They were equipped and targeted to collect evidence about past environmental history, especially any history of liquid water.