This article deals with ‘Curiosity’, the most recent rover sent by NASA to the red planet which is a part of Mars Science Laboratory mission that costs a whopping $2.47 billion to set up. It was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011. After wandering in space for eight and a half months it finally landed on August 5, 2012 in an area called Gale Crater at precisely the right target. The rover has the size of a car and the ability to propel itself across the terrain of the planet Mars.
If you thought sending a rover is as easy as sending a kiddie-car with a walkie-talkie, then think again. Launching the Curiosity NASA was indeed a phenomenon coming alive out of a science fiction movie and it has doubtlessly left no stone unturned to make us believe as to why NASA stands proud to have discovered such an extra-ordinary stuff. This is certainly going to take over the alien world by storm with its cutting-edge mars science in-built- laboratory. Landing a Mars Rover like Curiosity which is today uncovering new discoveries, will apparently feature in our history books someday.
Instruments you will find on the Mars Rover Curiosity:
- A Mineral Detector / Sample Analyzer known as SAM (Sample Analyzer at Mars).
- A Hard-to-reach photography instrument.
- A Descent Camera that takes high-definition panoramic pictures of the surroundings.
- A ChemCam- A laser technique to identify the different traits of rocks and soil.
- A Rover Environmental monitoring station which measures the amount of humidity, wind speeds, pressure and ultra-violet radiation on Mars.
- An X-ray spectrometer that helps in irradiating samples and determining the elemental composition of samples.
Why was Curiosity sent?
- It was basically designed to study the soil and the rocks for the availability of organic compounds which will eventually help the scientists understand if Mars was ever habitable or if it is presently suitable to live or no. Curiosity functions have been made accurately efficient to collect and analyze as many samples to prove the same.
- It is also designed to identify the peculiarities of the atmosphere as well as the ultraviolet rays.
- It is also developed to measure the amount of hydrogen present below the surface that will show the possibility of water’s and ice’s presence.
- It is designed to investigate the composition of chemicals, isotopes and minerals in the Martian surface.
- Its main functions include interpreting the formation of rocks and soils due to planetary process.
- It will also help in evaluating the evolution process of the Martian atmosphere
Curiosity Mars Discoveries so far:
- The very recent discoveries that Curiosity did were drilling into a Martian rock and collecting samples. It marked itself as the first rover which performed such a complicated maneuver on the terrain of another planet. It used its snooper attached to its arm and analyzed the soil grains through its incredible tools.
- It also made a historic discovery by uncovering the secret that methane is present in the air of Martian atmosphere. It falls under category of organics and is known to be a building block of life.
- With its Sample Analyzer it has found signs of water content in the Area of Gale Crater, the amount of molecules containing water were higher than it was ever expected by the scientists.
- It also found the presence of perchlorate. This compound of oxygen and nitrogen reacts very strongly with the organic molecules. Its presence may perhaps explain why it has been a tough task for the rover to find organic molecules on the terrain of Mars.
- It has been delivering images that the other orbiters never would have passed onto us. It’s giving a close, right up and personal images of the Martian terrain ultimately giving a new dimension to the whole new study of Mars for scientists.
- Curiosity has also snapped many pictures of rocky outcroppings of the alien soil showing remnants of stream bed that was present aboriginally and once flowed on the surface.
- Curiosity also showed results that indicate heavy isotopes of carbon content in the atmosphere.
- It also found a rock named as ‘Jake Matijevic’ by scientists. It has identified that this rock is very unusual but at the same time a well-known type of igneous rock that are often found in the volcanic provinces of Earth.
- It also found a spherical object which was rich in iron and has a dense accumulation of the spherules. It was such, that the scientists have nick-named it “blueberries.”
- It snapped many images of a stone that was a conglomerate rock. The shape and the size offered many clues to the scientists that this rock was submerged in a stream flow that was 3 feet and was under water possibly hip-deep or ankle-deep.
- It has also found clay and sulfate minerals that prove that there are carbon-based organic chemicals in the Martian soil which can be a great potential ingredient for life.
Keep reading for more articles on astronomy. The best is yet to come and more discoveries are yet to be made and remember this is just the beginning………..