# NASA to Announce 'Significant Findings' of Water on Mars Tuesday

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#### Rocketman35

##### Well-Known Member
NASA to Announce 'Significant Findings' of Water on Mars Tuesday
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By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer, SPACE.com

NASA (news - web sites) will hold a press conference Tuesday to announce "significant findings" about water on Mars based on evidence from its Opportunity Mars rover.

"It's going to be the most significant science results that we've had from the rovers, and it's bearing on their primary mission," NASA spokesperson Don Savage told SPACE.com. That mission is to find signs of water that might support life.

Will the announcement change how we think about Mars?

"Anything of a significant nature has that possibility," Savage said. "Sure."

If there is liquid water presently at the surface of Mars, as several lines of rover evidence have hinted, then most scientists agree there is the possibility that life could exist. Water does not mean life, but it is the key ingredient that makes life possible.

Few scientists doubt that Mars was once warmer and wet. And tremendous amounts of water are locked up as ice in the polar regions. The main question is whether any of that water remains at the surface in liquid form. Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, are exploring opposite sides of the planet near the equator.

A SPACE.com story Sunday revealed a "palpable buzz" among rover scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, from where the rover mission is run. Sources indicated that a coherent picture of the geology of the rover landing sites was emerging.

Speculation that the announcement might involve any discussion of biology has not been confirmed.

Until now, all rover science news has been revealed at press conferences held in Pasadena. A routine had been established and the next press conference was slated for later this week. Sources indicated a major press conference might come next week. But NASA rushed to set up Tuesday's press conference at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC.

"We didn't want to sit on this information for a long time," Savage said, adding that the scientists felt they "had gotten the information they needed."

The panel assembled for the press conference includes top brass and a cast of important science characters.

Speakers will include Ed Weiler, Associate Administrator for NASA's Office of Space Science, Jim Garvin, Lead Scientist for Mars and the Moon, Cornell University's Steve Squyres, the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Principal Investigator, and MIT geologist John Grotzinger, among others.

The press conference will take place at 2 p.m. ET and will be carried live on NASA television.

Opportunity has been investigating the soil and a rock outcropping in a shallow depression at its Meridiani Planum landing site, which may once have been the site of a giant lake or ocean. The rocks are layered and may have formed as sediments settled in the bottom of an ancient lake or ocean, or as part of a river bed, but that is only one hypothesis.

Both Opportunity and Spirit have found sticky, clumping soil that scientists already said could contain water. Only small amounts of water, perhaps sucked from the atmosphere, would be needed to mix with salt in the soil and create a brine, which could exist in liquid form even in the frigid environment of Mars.

Opportunity also appears to sit amid a field of hematite, a mineral that typically -- but not always -- forms in the presence of water. The rover has also found countless BB-sized beads. The spherical objects might have formed in a water environment, the scientists have said before, but there could also be other explanations, including volcanism and meteor impacts.

The rovers have sent back a mountain of other data on rocks and soil that, as of late last week, had not been fully analyzed or in some cases had not yet been released.

The rovers landed in January and are schedule to explore Mars for at least three months. They could last into summer, however. The mission price tag is \$820 million.

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##### Well-Known Member
Considering the somewhat limited area that the rovers travel, I think this could be very could news for possible habitation.

Hmmmm bottled water from Mars!! 

#### Wonderdog

##### Well-Known Member
"It's going to be the most significant science results that we've had from the rovers, and it's bearing on their primary mission," NASA spokesperson Don Savage told SPACE.com. That mission is to find signs of water that might support life.

Water is only necessary to support life as WE know it. Maybe...

Da Dog

#### Neil

##### Well-Known Member
Yep! I just watched the news... They bumped a firestone investigation for it! THey have found large amounts of salt that were formed by evaporating water. They sound very sure that there was water. They say "oprotunity has landed in an area once drenched with water" or something like that. Aint it kewl!?