Curiosity Fine LinesNASA posted orbiter photos that indicate the possibility of liquid water on Mars today. There are dark markings which advance down steep Martian slopes during warmer weather. The researchers call them Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL). The RSL themselves aren’t proof positive that liquid water is present, and the researchers are still considering additional data including spectral data comparisons between RSL areas and non-RSL slopes.

The leading hypothesis for these features is the flow of near-surface water, kept liquid by salts depressing the freezing point of pure water. “The flow of water, even briny water, anywhere on Mars today would be a major discovery, impacting our understanding of present climate change on Mars and possibly indicating potential habitats for life near the surface on modern Mars,” said Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project Scientist Richard Zurek, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Curiosity rover tweeted, “Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle / This rover went over the dune. My rear hazcam view of Dingo Gap.”

NASA shared an animated sequence of images from the low-slung Hazard-Avoidance Camera on the rear of the vehicle documents the up-then-down crossing of the dune (right). Video on the left is the view from one of Curiosity’s forward facing cameras. Does anyone else get goosebumps watching the little guy go?

Chariots of Fire tweet

Curiosity announced that its NASA JPL team is running a 5K in honor of the rover’s 5km total distance on Mars. Curiosity added, “Humbled, but where’s my T-shirt?”

NASA posted,“Dollars to doughnuts, Mars Exploration Rovers’s Opportunity found the origin of that mysterious ‘jelly doughnut’ rock.”

So, after all the excitement over Pinnacle Island, the 1.5-inch-wide rock found by Opportunity rover in January, researchers have now determined that it’s a piece of a larger rock, which Opportunity’s wheel broke off and moved.

“Once we moved Opportunity a short distance, after inspecting Pinnacle Island, we could see directly uphill an overturned rock that has the same unusual appearance,” said Opportunity Deputy Principal Investigator Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis. “We drove over it. We can see the track. That’s where Pinnacle Island came from.”

OK, so now we know. But wasn’t it fun to imagine Marvin the Martian out there dropping rocks where Opportunity would find them?