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NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has found clear evidence of water on the Red Planet, scientists report on Thursday.

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NASA's rover Curiosity has found clear evidence of water on Mars, scientists reported on Thursday.

Analysis of a slab of rock indicates that there was once a fast-moving stream of water.

Images taken by Curiosity show rounded stones cemented into the rock.

Planetary scientist Rebecca Williams says these stones are too big to have been moved by wind.

[Rebecca Williams, Planetary Science Institute, Senior Scientist]:
"These gravels that we are seeing here are one, the rounded shape, but also the size. These are too large to be transported by wind. The consensus of the science team is that these are water-transported gravels in a vigorous stream."

It is thought that the rock is from the floor of an ancient stream that was once between ankle- and knee-deep.

But this does not definitely prove there was once also life on the Red Planet.

California Institute of Technology's lead scientist says understanding the chemistry is crucial.

[John Grotziner, California Institute of Technology, Lead Scientist]:
"As we go forward now we bring the rest of the payload in. We look at more rocks, we get more context and the question about habitability goes beyond the simple observation of water on Mars to recreating the environment in greater detail with an understanding of the chemistry that was going on at that time to ask if this the kind of place that microorganisms could have lived."

Curiosity is now traveling to a patch of land named Glenelg where three different types of rock intersect.

Scientists believe that they may find other rocks here more suitable for chemical analysis.

The $2.5 billion Mars Curiosity mission is NASA's first astrobiology mission since the 1970s.


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