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June 8 2013
Opportunity has made one of its greatest scientific discoveries so far. Clay minerals in a rock called Esperance clearly indicate that neutral water flowed across the rock some time in the first billion years of its existence.
The rock was found near Endurance Crater, and took seven attempts to analyse because it was partially covered in Martian dust.
The clay minerals are similar to one called montmorillonite. Formed under the influence of neutral water, this is significant because neutral water, which is similar to household tap water, is thought to be much more conducive to the chemistry needed for the origin of life.
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