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The Mars Exploration Rover Mission

Presenter: David Des Marais, NASA Ames Research Center
When: November 9, 2004 2:30PM PST

The rovers Spirit and Opportunity are robotic field geologists that investigate the crustal composition, environmental history, and potential habitability of Mars. The Gusev Crater and Terra Meridiani landing sites were selected to “follow the water” that might have shaped their landscapes and mineralogy. At Gusev Crater, the Spirit rover observed evidence of liquid water in fractures and cavities in rocks near the landing site, in salty horizons in the soil, and in extensively altered rocks in the Columbia Hills. At Meridiani Planum, Opportunity discovered sulfate-rich bedrock, sedimentary laminations, hematite concretions, and bedrock dissolution features that indicate the former presence of abundant liquid water. The MER rovers have shown that both sites had the potential to sustain life sometime in the past.

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