So the rovers are digging in the wrong place!
Ahhh nope. The images were taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) which was launched in Aug 12, 2005 & made orbit in March 10th, 2006 & studied by researchers. Plus...
Why the Curiosity Rover is Forbidden From Collecting Water on Mars
The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 prevents every nation on Earth from sending a mission, robot or human, close to a water source in the fear of contaminating it with life from Earth [PDF]. In its 140-million-mile journey from Earth to Mars, it’s possible that Curiosity has carried harmful microbes all the way from home. Even though NASA tries its best to sterilize all space-traveling equipment before launch by subjecting it to intense ultraviolet light, it still might harbor microbial hitchhikers.
In theory, NASA could turn up the heat and radiation to a level pretty much guaranteed to destroy any microbial life—but that could also end up wiping out the rover’s internal systems. "In order to be completely sterile, they'd have to use really powerful ionizing radiation or heat, both of which would damage the electronics,” University of New South Wales astrobiologist Malcolm Walter told Fairfax Media. "So they go as far as they dare."
Another issue that would prevent Curiosity from investigating the water source is the terrain itself. The slopes where the streaks formed are steep and therefore difficult to navigate. Future Mars rovers could be designed with this hurdle in mind, and they could also come equipped with DNA sequencers to test for life or 3D-printing capabilities to build smaller bots with little to no chance of being contaminated.
Unfortunately, it’s too late for NASA modify the next generation of Mars rovers, which is set to launch in 2020. The European Space Agency says it plans to send an organic molecule analyzer on its 2018 ExoMars mission, though they still wouldn’t be able to test Martian water unless they could guarantee 100 percent sterilization.
Outer Space Treaty 1967
Outer Space Treaty, formally Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, (1967), international treaty binding the parties to use outer space only for peaceful purposes. In June 1966 the United States and the Soviet Union submitted draft treaties on the uses of space to the United Nations. These were reconciled during several months of negotiation in the Legal Subcommittee of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and the resulting document was endorsed by the UN General Assembly on Dec. 19, 1966, and opened for signature on Jan. 27, 1967. The treaty came into force on Oct. 10, 1967, after being ratified by the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and several other countries.
Under the terms of the treaty, the parties are prohibited from placing nuclear arms or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit, on the Moon, or on other bodies in space. Nations cannot claim sovereignty over the Moon or other celestial bodies. Nations are responsible for their activities in space, are liable for any damage caused by objects launched into space from their territory, and are bound to assist astronauts in distress. Their space installations and vehicles shall be open, on a reciprocal basis, to representatives of other countries, and all parties agree to conduct outer-space activities openly and in accordance with international law.
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity captured this image, which looks toward the higher regions of the 3.4-mile-high (5.5 kilometers) Mount Sharp, on Sept. 9, 2015.