A Roller-Coaster Plunge Into Martian Water—and Life?

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Science  17 Dec 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6011, pp. 1617
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6011.1617

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The search for water on the Red Planet—and the life that liquid water would permit—has had its ups and downs. The shallow, salty seas spotted in 2004 evaporated from scientists' view of early Mars within a few years, but even so, the past decade's half-dozen martian missions have finally delivered. It is now clear that early in Mars history, liquid water on or just inside the planet did indeed persist long enough to alter rock and, possibly, sustain the origin of life. There is now even enough moisture to encourage those who seek living, breathing alien microbes—organisms that, if they exist, could hold the key to explaining how life on our own planet got its start.