The European Space Agency said Thursday that its Mars Express orbiter will follow up new evidence that water may flow on the surface of Mars — a find that would support the idea of life on the Red Planet.
Scientists said Wednesday that pictures taken by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor show changes in craters that provide the strongest evidence yet that water coursed through them as recently as several years ago, and is perhaps doing so even now.
Global Surveyor previously spotted tens of thousands of gullies that scientists believed were carved by fast-moving water coursing down cliffs and steep crater walls.
According to findings to appear Friday in the journal Science, scientists have now compared pictures taken of two craters in 1999 and 2001 with similar images from 2004 and 2005.
In both craters, scientists found light-colored deposits several hundred meters (yards) long in gullies that weren't present in the original photos. They concluded that the deposits — possibly mud, salt or frost — were left there when water recently cascaded through.
The Daily Telegraph has a photo.
And in other news, the Houston Chronicler says:
The newest spacecraft orbiting Mars has taken pictures of three NASA crafts used in previous missions to the red planet _ the rover Spirit that landed on the surface in 2004 and the two Viking landers that set down in 1976.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, circling the planet since March, took images that show Spirit, the Viking landers and associated equipment as pinpoints or blobs against the surface.
The images were released Monday by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Copies of the pictures can be seen at NASA's site.