Surprising Discoveries From NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover

Together with NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover less than three months away from landing on the red planet, it just seems appropriate to return during its predecessor –the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover.

By no means will Perseverance’s coming to indicate an end to the science which Curiosity proceeds to generate. However, Perseverance’s entry on the scene will not indicate the launching of an ambitious age of complementary Mars surface exploration.

Gale Crater was capable of supporting life 3.5 billion decades back.

We are taking a look at a site in which the stones formed roughly 3.5 billion decades back since we believe that if Mars had existence, it was likely in yesteryear once the air was warmer and there was liquid water,” he states.

Curiosity was not designed to discover life, yet to decide if Mars had all of the essential requirements, including liquid water, the chemical building block of life like carbon dioxide, and energy resources that life may utilize, states Vasavada. In the very first year of its assignment, Curiosity discovered a website named Yellowknife Bay that once maintained an early lake,” he states.

In the minerals left behind, we could tell the lake water wasn’t overly acidic and not overly salty, states Vasavada. We also discovered nitrogen, carbon, sulfur, phosphorus, and other components that life needs, ” he states. And possibly most of all, fascination found possible resources for energy for microbial life.

Lakes were current for countless years in the early Gale crater.

Curiosity landed alongside some three-mile-high mountain of sedimentary stone, states Vasavada. Such as the Grand Canyon on Earth, the oldest stones are in the base, younger ones are at the top, and every layer is a listing of these states from a specific time, ” he states.

Curiosity has climbed over 1300 ft on the mountain, and it has discovered a virtually uninterrupted record of historical deserts in the Gale crater that probably lasted for centuries or even tens of centuries.
Even though the lakes have been long gone, Curiosity can see bands from the rock which are the remnants of millimeter-thick layers of sand that settled out from the lakes, possibly at a rate of one per year,” states Vasavada. And he states there is some evidence that sometimes the lakes dried up, but afterward returned.

The organic thing was current on early Mars and has survived intact to this day.

Curiosity has discovered that early Mars had enough carbon from the soils and rocks to function as raw material to life, if it existed, states Vasavada. Curiosity has discovered that the lakebed stones in Gale crater needed a diversity of organic molecules,” he states.

All are easy, just a couple of carbon atoms in length.

Nevertheless, it is possible these carbon-based molecules on Mars could be fragments of complex organic molecules that have degraded over centuries, Vasavada states. And he notes that it is surprising that these basic molecules survived.

It is possible they were buried and just recently emerged on the surface via natural processes of erosion.

There are occasional spikes in methane gas which so far don’t have any explanation.

Telescopic observers on Earth maintained they saw methane gas (like natural gas on Earth) from Mars’ atmosphere in the years before the rover came, states Vasavada. It appeared to come and move in massive plumes, ” he states. This was very surprising since methane is believed to be destroyed immediately by other substances, and was not believed to exist, he notes.

Curiosity, however, is equipped with a specific sensor for methane and the rover has discovered a very small foundation amount of methane, averaging roughly 1 component methane per two billion components of Mars atmosphere, states Vasavada. And a couple of times within the previous eight decades, he states, the rover has discovered spikes of ten to twenty-five times as much.

However, Vasavada warns that even though the discovery of methane on Mars is exciting as it can be generated by biology on Earth, there are non-biological explanations. Yet thus far, the origin of Mars’ methane remains a puzzle.

Curiosity was seen and made dimensions via a planetary-wide dust storm.

Like in deserts on Earth, the wind is continually blowing off and grinding away in the geology, states Vasavada. This leaves a whole lot of dust which sometimes gets wrapped into enormous clouds, ” he notes. Clouds absorb the sun and heat upward, which makes the winds much more extreme, ” he states.

Free of rain or seas on Mars, every couple of years that the dust storms will rise till they wrap around the whole world, states Vasavada. In 2018, such a storm happened, and Curiosity managed to witness it on the floor, ” he says.

Though Mars has an atmosphere less than 1 percent of Earth’s, the most striking effect of this storm was that the sun in Gale Crater diminished by 97 percent.

What lies ahead for Curiosity?
Within the following year,” Curiosity will examine a significant transition from clay-rich stone layers to sulfate-rich stone layers, possibly the effect of a planet-wide shift in its own climate from moist to dry states Vasavada. We came to check whether ancient Mars was appropriate for life and what’s been the most astonishing to me is how acceptable it had been, ” he states.

Curiosity’s kit of 10 science tools comprises 17 cameras, a laser to vaporize and research small pinpoint areas of stones in space, and a drill to accumulate powdered stone samples, says NASA. By quantifying the chemical fingerprints within various reefs and rocks, the rover could ascertain their previous histories and possible interactions with water, the agency notes.

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