They came without warning.
After so many years of finding nothing, the scientists had given up hope of ever finding life on Mars. Despite all of the probes, all of the rovers, Mars seemed destined to remain a dead planet.
Spirit had been silent for years and it seemed that Opportunity would so follow on in its sister’s wake. Curiosity soldiered onward, drilling and lasering its way across the dusty ground.
Each week it seemed, there was some new discovery; compounds from meteorites that revealed how the early solar system had come to be, ancient rocks that could only have been shaped by flowing water, deep in the red planet’s shadowed path.
But never the Holy Grail, the one thing everyone wished for, even if they could no long admit to it in public.
Never signs of life.
Never the slightest hint that Earth may not have been unique in the universe.