NASA has made the search for life on Mars one of its top priorities over the years. To date, no proof has been found of past or present life as we know it, however, recent advances suggest the Red Planet once flowed with water. The discovery means the planet may have once harvested life in conditions that were much warmer and wetter than today.
It was revealed during Amazon Prime’s “Spacefiles” series why finding water was so important to the space agency.
The 2004 series detailed: “Since life depends on it, evidence of water remains the great quest on Mars.
“Here, grooves run down the slopes of a great valley.
“They’re recent clues, possibly of short-lived cascades released from an exposed layer of rock just beneath the clifftop.
The programme went on to reveal how NASA launched a robotic spacecraft in 2001 to get a better understanding.
It added: “With water the objective, an American probe – the Mars Odyssey – slotted into Martian orbit.
“The mission was to scan the planet for signs of water ice just beneath the surface.
“Penetrated by cosmic waves from space, the surface throws out gamma rays and neutrons.
“They reveal subsurface elements.”
With their suspicions furthered, NASA decided to send two Rovers – Opportunity and Spirit to the Red Planet.
The series explained: “2003 marked a new phase of Martian exploration.
“The Americans successfully landed Spirit, the first of two rovers.
“It may look unremarkable, but this is the real surface of Mars – did water once flow here? If so does that mean life?
“Three weeks after Spirit, the lander Opportunity rolled into a crater.
“It was a bullseye – at this sight Opportunity confirmed there had once been water and found exposed dark rock that may have clues to the distant past.”
On June 10, 2018, Opportunity ceased communication after getting caught in a violent dust storm.
NASA hoped its most successful rover in history would survive after the weather cleared, but it did not.
On February 13, 2019, NASA officials declared that the Opportunity mission was complete after the spacecraft had failed to respond to over 1,000 signals sent since August 2018.