After a six-month journey, NASA's InSight spacecraft is expected to touch down on the Red Planet.
Scientists say have spotted what they say appears to be a large salt-laden lake under ice on the southern polar plain of Mars, a body of water they called a possible habitat for microbial life.
But the scientists emphasised there could be nonbiological explanations for both discoveries made by the Curiosity rover at a site called Gale crater, leaving the issue of Martian life a tantalising but unanswered question.
Known simply as “The Mars Helicopter,” the device weighs less than 1.8 kilogrammes (four pounds), and its main body section, or fuselage, is about the size of a softball.
The spacecraft was scheduled to blast off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with the sole concern of foggy weather.
South America's Atacama Desert is the driest non-polar desert on Earth but tiny bacteria and microorganisms survive there. And scientists see that as a sign of potential life on Mars.
Researchers believe the ice formed relatively recently because the sites appear smooth on the surface and there are no signs of craters that would be formed by celestial debris smashing into the planet over time.
The surface of Mars contains compounds that are too toxic to sustain the most basic form of life, according to a study by the University of Edinburgh's School of Physics and Astronomy.
Europe's space probe to Mars, Schiaparelli, crashed on the red planet after its parachute deployed earlier than expected.
Musk shares a concept of an Interplanetary Transport System based on reusable rockets, a propellant farm on Mars and 1,000 spaceships on orbit, carrying about 100 people each.
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