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Is there life on Mars? Stay tuned...

Scientists on NASA's Mars Mission are hopeful of 'exciting new findings' in the next two months.

india Updated: Jan 24, 2006 18:28 IST

Scientists on NASA's Mars Mission are hopeful of "exciting new findings" in the next two months when its latest rover Opportunity on the red planet hits a crucial stop -- the Vitoria Crater.

"We have not yet found the life that we are looking for in Mars. But may be in two months from now, you might hear something really nice. So stay tuned in," said Steven Ruff, head of a NASA team from the Mars Exploration Rover Mission currently touring India.

Delivering a lecture on the two years of NASA's rovers Spirit and Opportunity on Mars for thousands of school children here, Ruff said after unearthing some very interesting data in craters called Gusev, Bonneville, Eagle and Endurance as well as higher altitudes like Columbia Hills and Husband Hill summit, the rover was now inching its way to Victoria Crater.

"This is by far the biggest crater located on the Mars surface and it is expected to provide vital clues to our search for life on the planet," Ruff said.

The team, he said, was also overjoyed that the rovers that landed on Mars in January 2004 and were designed to last only 90 days had still been going strong.

"Mars has been friendly to these rovers in a way we had never expected. Probably even next year we will still be talking about exploration of Mars with the rovers," he said.

NASA had also lined up a series of missions to Mars -- an orbitter that is already on its way and would land there in March, a lander on its north pole to look for buried ice in 2007 and a faster and bigger rover in 2009.

First Published: Jan 24, 2006 18:28 IST