NASA's Curiosity rover has discovered an ancient stream bed, revealing evidence of running water and possible life on Mars.
Researchers have been able to determine that water carried the rocks examined in the bed, judging by their size and shape. Furthermore NASA have estimated the stream to be between hip and ankle depth, flowing at a speed of three feet per second. "This is the first time we're actually seeing water-transported gravel on Mars. This is a transition from speculation about the size of streambed material to direct observation of it." William Dietrich of the University of California, Berkeley commented.
While this is not definitive proof of life on Mars, it does open some doors and raise further questions about the possibility of said idea. Researchers aim to use the information gathered from Curiosity to look further into the streambed: find out what it was like through the composition of the gravel. "A long-flowing stream can be a habitable environment," said Mars Science Laboratory Project Scientist John Grotzinger. "It is not our top choice as an environment for preservation of organics, though. We're still going to Mount Sharp, but this is insurance that we have already found our first potentially habitable environment."
Onward to Mount Sharp, where researchers hope to find carbon-based organic chemicals preserved in the clay surface and sulfate minerals of the area. They continue searching for these important ingredients for life; but this is a big find to suggest habitation.