gargantua wrote:The mission covers a small area, and machine intelligence is still rather limited in its flexibility and imagination. So we could get lucky this time, but I certainly wouldn't count on it. And there may be signs of life that we wouldn't recognize because it's, well, alien.
I think it would be a most extraordinary coincidence if we found (evidence of) alien life not only on the very first place we ever looked, but literally, right next door (or, two doors over, if you count the Moon.)
Heck, I'll be surprised if we find (evidence of) life anywhere else in our solar system. Given the vastness of space, life could be extremely common and still not appear in every star system, let alone multiple times. We have to look, of course, but luckily there's almost assuredly plenty of other cool stuff awaiting our discovery on Mars.