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Mars Nili Fossae

Image of Mars Nili Fossae
FOLLOW THE WATER: This spectacular image depicts the Nili Fossae region of Mars which occupies an area between a large volcano and an ancient impact basin. It’s home to a collection of curved troughs cutting about 500m (1,600 feet) into the crust. The European spacecraft Mars Express detected clay minerals there, good news for astrobiologists because the clays point unmistakably to the presence of water at some point in the past. Even better, the minerals suggest that the water collected in pools on the surface, a seemingly comfortable habitat for life. Nili Fossae was in the running as a candidate landing site for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission which will search for potentially habitable environments, but because of engineering concerns, it was cut when they narrowed it down to the “final four.” Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
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