Posts Tagged ‘CURIOSITY’
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Scientists at a recent conference titled “The Present-Day Habitability of Mars” at the University of California Los Angeles discussed a potential energy source found on Mars–perchlorate, a chlorine-containing chemical detected on Mars by NASA’s Phoenix lander in 2008. And recent discoveries by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity indicate that perchlorate could be widespread across the planet.
Doug Archer, a scientist with the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate of NASA’s Johnson Space Center presented the possibility of widespread perchlorates on Mars on March 18 at the 44th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas. Archer pointed out that, in addition to Curiosity and Phoenix, previous robots, such as the Viking landers, Sojourner, Spirit, and Opportunity, detected chlorine at various locations on Mars.
Space.com points out that Archer carefully clarified, “I’m not saying that all of this chlorine everywhere on Mars is in the form of perchlorates . . . there are likely other chlorate salts as well.” He went on to explain, “I believe that at least some of the chlorine at all of these locations is present as perchlorate.”
According to Space.com, Archer believes “the implications of globally distributed perchlorates are very important for climate, habitability and present-day aqueous processes.”
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Curiosity Rover on Mars Predicted to Encounter Moving Sand Dunes
A recent paper by Simone Silvestro of the SETI Institute and colleagues demonstrates that sand dunes in Gale crater, located between the Curiosity rover and its final destination, Aeolis Mons (“Mount Sharp”), are among the actively migrating dunes on Mars.
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|NASA’s Martian Rover Curiosity’s photo of strange metal object.|
|Metal object enlarged and enhanced.|
The Martian rover Curiosity has discovered a shiny piece of dark metal, found protruding from a rocky area on the red planet’s surface. The photo certainly peaked ‘my curiosity’, so I decided to enlarge and enhance the object in the image provided by NASA.
If you will notice in the full image, there appears to be tire marks, one of which shows up very well. At first glance, I had figured out what that shiny piece of metal is! Any biker can tell by the clues in the photo, that it’s a part that fell off of a Harley Davidson motorcycle! A foot-peg.
Seriously, what has NASA spent billions, perhaps trillions of dollars on Mars missions, if they don’t plan to investigate something like a piece of metal found in a rock-strewn Martian landscape? “Oh yeah, a piece of metal. Whoopee. Probably just a chunk of meteor, or metal ore that happens to look like a door handle. Rocks are so much more interesting.” Not!
Just where is the curiosity in the Curiosity science team? Hold on, it’s coming to me… “ignore the obvious.” It’s an unusual piece of flotsam in a sea of dirt and rock, nothing more. Gotcha! Carry on.
Slashgear.com- The Curiosity rover on Mars has been keeping itself quite busy lately, most recently boring into Mars’ red surface in order to find signs of life. However, in its downtime, the rover likes to take a lot of photos, including self-portraits, but this time around, Curiosity came across a strange chunk of metal sticking out of the ground? What could it be?
The photo was snapped on January 30 using one of the rover’s MastCam cameras to get shots of the landscape, and it ended up getting this odd piece of metal in the frame. NASA’s scientists aren’t 100% sure what it is, but they think it may be a chunk from a meteorite, or possibly a chunk of ore that became exposed by some sort of erosion.
It’s said that the object is only a half-centimeter tall, so it’s extremely tiny compared to how big it looks in the image. NASA hasn’t said whether or not it will check out the piece of metal, or if they’ll just ignore it and continue on with their planned experiments. After all, they do have more holes to drill.
However, while some think it’s simply a tiny piece of metal, Elisabetta Bonora of Alive Universe Images, mentions that the hunk of metal takes up about 35 pixels in the image. Taking into account the camera’s resolution and the distance between the rover and the object, the size of the chunk of metal may actually be larger than just 0.5 cm — it’s possible that it’s up to a foot tall. At this point, we’ll never know, unless NASA decides to investigate, but it’s very possible they just might let it be and continue on as scheduled.
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On Tuesday, November 20, Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity chief scientist John Grotzinger told NPR that an upcoming announcement about data from a recently collected soil sample by Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM, instrument would be “one for the history books.” This comment fueled speculation about the possible discovery of evidence indicating past or present life on Mars.
NASA announced the latest findings from its Curiosity rover on December 3 during a press conference at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, California. Explaining the announcement, Space.com describes that Curiosity “found evidence of chlorine, sulfur, and water in Mars dirt studied by its onboard laboratory, as well as organic compounds (chemicals containing carbon) inside its Sample Analysis at Mars instrument.”
According to NASA officials, “The chlorine is of Martian origin, but it’s possible the carbon may be of Earth origin, carried by Curiosity and detected by SAM’s high sensitivity design.” Wired.com reports that Paul Mahaffy, SAM’s principal investigator, is trying to avoid fueling further speculation. He carefully stated, “We have no definitive detection of Martian organics at this point, but we will keep looking in the diverse environments of Gale Crater.”
Commenting on his “one for the history books” statement, Grotzinger acknowledged, “I’ve learned that you have to be careful about what you say and even more careful about how you say it. We work at the speed of science. The rest of the world works at the speed of Instagram.”