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Goals: Mission Design

Goal 1:   Determine whether Life ever arose on Mars
[more on Goal  1 for the entire Mars Exploration Program]

This image shows a white, frothy stream flowing down a canyon between tall, red, volcanic cliffs. Life, as we understand it, requires water, so the history of water on Mars is critical to finding out if the martian environment was ever conducive to life. Although the Mars Exploration Rovers do not have the ability to detect life directly, they will be offering very important information on the habitability of the environment in the planet´s history. The rovers will focus on questions concerning water on Mars: its past, where it was located, and the chemical and geological interactions with the rocks and soil. Close-up studies of surface samples will reveal new details of Mars mineralogy that may help answer whether water was involved in rock and soil formation, and the nature of those processes. This knowledge, in turn, will point the way to areas on Mars that may have been favorable for life in the past.

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