The Curiosity rover has found standing water, energy, and key elements with the right atomic charges which has caused leading scientists to believe that at least some of the planet must have been habitable in the past.
This has been believe to have been a period of only hundreds of thousands of years, however; a comparatively small period by the standards of the origins of life. The most recent rover mission argues, conversely, that the most recent expedition provides strong evidence that the Gale Crater in Mars had large lakes, rivers and deltas, for a period of millions to tens of millions of years. Even after the surface water dried up, large quantities of water remained underground.
While this doesn’t prove that life on mars is definitely a historical fact, it does make the case stronger and stronger that Mars had the capability to support life. Dr. Grunsfield, a worker on the mission, has stated that Mars 3.5-4million years ago could have been very much like earth – a planet with a thick atmosphere, blue skies and mountains, lakes, and rivers.
Students applying for earth sciences will do well to note the similar composition of Earth and Mars from this emerging evidence. Similarly, engineering applicants would do well to note the gap currently existing in ‘life-discovering’ technologies on the rover missions. At present, scientists do not know which instrument to use, posing a unique problem for engineering minds to solve.