Monday, 6 August 2012

Curiosity lands in Mars

Incase you did not know already, Curiosity is NASA's $2.6 billion rover which travelled hundreds of millions of miles through space to Mars.
The landing process involved a sky-crane and the world's largest supersonic parachute

"Rationally I know it was supposed to work all along, but emotionally it always seemed completely crazy," said James Wray (Asst. Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology).
Curiosity has been travelling from earth since 26 November 2011. The journey is about 567 million Kilometers according to NASA.
Curiosity has 17 cameras, a laserThe vehicle, which will be controlled f which can survey rock composition from a distance and instruments that can analyse samples from rock and soil.
Rover Curiosity lands on mars

If all goes according to plan, Curiosity's first stop will be Gale Crater, which may have once contained a lake. After at least a year, the rover will arrive at Mount Sharp, in the center of the crater. The rover will drive up the mountain examining layers of sediment. This process is like looking at a historical record because each layer represents an era of the planet's history, scientists say.

Scientists are looking for organic molecules, which are necessary to create life. But even if Curiosity can find, it's still not enough proof that life can/has ever existed; after all, these molecules are found in bus exhaust and meteorites, too, says Steve Squyres (part of the Mars Science Laboratory science team)

And if there aren't any organics, that may suggest there's something on the planet destroying these molecules, according to Wray. But if Curiosity detects them, he said, that might help scientists move from asking the questions, "Was Mars ever habitable?" to "Did Mars actually host life?"

"I feel like it's a signal that we have the capability to do big and exciting things in the future." said Carol Paty (Asst. professor at Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences). "You can't not be excited."
Curiosity is supposed to last for two years on Mars, but it may operate longer -- after all, Spirit and Opportunity, which arrived on Mars in 2004, were each only supposed to last 90 Martian days. Spirit stopped communicating with NASA in 2010 after getting stuck in sand, and Opportunity is still going.

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