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Whitewater Lake

Whitewater Lake is an area of bright local outcrops along an eroded segment of a vast crater named Endeavour that spans some 22 kilometers (14 miles) in diameter. The outcrops contain rocks that are older than all other rocks examined by the Opportunity rover during its first 9 years on Mars. They preserve the best evidence yet that ancient Mars was the most conducive time period for the formation of life.

Opportunity investigated the rocks in 2013 at a spot dubbed Matejivic Hill where researchers believe iron-rich smectite was produced in an aqueous environment some 4 billion years ago that was relatively benign and with a nearly neutral pH – thus offering potential life forms a habitable zone with a far better chance to originate and thrive for perhaps as long as hundreds of millions of years. The clay minerals found at the site stem from an earlier epoch when liquid water flowed on Mars and perhaps and were more favorable to sustaining microbial life because they form in more neutral pH water. Endeavour Crater is more than 3 Billion years old.

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