NASA's Curiosity rover has drilled a hole-in-one, discovering signs of a past environment once suitable for living microbes -- and the discovery has left some NASA officials breathless.
The Mars Science Laboratory mission's early achievement of its stated goal before ever reaching its destination, Gale Crater’s 3-mile-high Mt. Sharp, may be inspiring some to even greater Martian ambitions.
"Just sitting in the audience here, I feel giddy. Because I have an image now of possibly a lake, a freshwater lake, on a Mars with probably a thicker atmosphere, maybe a snow-capped Mt. Sharp," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the space agency’s Science Mission Directorate.
President Obama's goal to send a manned mission to the Red Planet by the 2030s remains far on the horizon -- but the findings still fired up the former astronaut’s imagination.
"It makes me want to go," Grunsfeld told Mars scientists assembled at a Tuesday news conference. "So let me just ask you, how many of you now would like to go to Mars and be able to go with a rock hammer and maybe a little more modern instrumentation?"