PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - A salty pool of liquid water once sloshed on Mars, ebbing and flowing in an environment that could have supported life eons before a NASA spacecraft visited the now dry and frozen spot, the space agency said.
The Opportunity rover turned up the evidence while probing an outcrop of finely layered rock at its landing site on Mars, where the six-wheeled robot landed two months ago. Scientists said the rock likely formed in water, which evaporated to leave layer after layer of sediment behind.
"If we are correct in our interpretation this was a habitable environment," said Cornell University astronomer Steve Squyres, the mission's main scientist. "These are the kinds of environments that are very suitable for life."
Opportunity previously found clues that water once soaked rocks at Meridiani Planum, a broad and flat region of the planet. Those initial results left it unclear whether it was ground or surface water.