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Mars rover Opportunity finds traces of 'drinkable' water

 The rover's previous discoveries over the last nine years suggest that water on Mars was acidic.

Since 2011, the solar-powered six-wheel Opportunity has explored the Endeavour Crater, the largest of the five craters already examined by the rover.

In Endeavour, the rover found minerals dating back to the first billion years of Martian geological history. When the rover scraped away the top layer of a light-colored rock after several attempts, it found traces of clay minerals with an aluminum-rich chemical signature, suggesting they were formed through interaction with pH-neutral water.

Other stones Opportunity tested over the years have confirmed that water was once present on Mars, but research suggested that it was acidic, and not capable of sustaining life.
“This is water you can drink,'' Opportunity mission chief scientist Steve Squyres of Cornell University said.

In 2004, twin rovers Opportunity and Spirit landed on opposite sides of the Red Planet. They were supposed to work for three months, but both operated for years.

Spirit operated until 2010 when it got stuck in sand, and later stopped communicating with mission control. Opportunity continues to gather valuable information as it moves further on the Mars surface, though its hardware is aging – it recent experienced a problem with its flash memory, but the operators were able to reboot the system. 


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