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On tenth anniversary, Opportunity finds early Mars hospitable to life
Posted: Tue, Jan 28, 2014, 7:22 AM ET (1222 GMT)
Mars Exploration Rover (NASA/JPL) Scientists celebrating the tenth anniversary of Mars rover Opportunity's landing on Mars late last week said the rover has confirmed the planet had conditions hospitable to life early in its history. In papers published in the journal Science, researchers analyzing data collected by Opportunity of rocks in a region called Matijevic Hill found a mineral called iron-rich smectite that formed in mild conditions that predate the formation of the crater four billion years ago where they were found. The Curiosity rover, on the other side of Mars from Opportunity, made a similar discovery earlier in its mission, although not nearly as far back in Martian history as the Opportunity finding. Opportunity, whose primary mission when it landed in January 2004 was just 90 days, remains in good condition, project officials said. Opportunity is currently studying a rock that recently appeared in front of the rover.
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