Roving for rocks on the red planet: The Mars Pathfinder Mission

Authors


Abstract

Mars is the most Earth-like planet in our solar system. After Earth, it is the only other planet that is capable of supporting life. Recent scientific evidence suggests that life did once exist on Mars and makes the planet a doubly exciting target for exploration. Mars is a unique terrestrial planet. Evidence suggests it underwent major climatic changes and has a geologic record of surface rocks that spans the entire history of the solar system. The geologic record suggests that early climate on Mars was warmer and wetter, and that liquid water—a requirement for life—may have been present. Studying the geological, climatological, and exobiological conditions of Mars may provide the data science needs to address the almost theological question of: “Are we alone in the universe?”