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Mars Rover/Mission Thread: Following Our Curiosity


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#511 mrawfull

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 01:07 PM

Yep, it totally looks like a piece of plastic from the rover to me.


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#512 Sharpshooter

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 01:10 PM

Great pic, nice resolution and colour.

Yep, seems the NASA guys were on the mark about it being a plastic piece from the Rover.

I wonder where it came off of though, and if it'll have any impact to any instruments or science experiments. Hopefully not.
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#513 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 02:54 PM

Rover's Second Scoop Discarded, Third Scoop Commanded
10.15.12


Posted Image This image contributed to an interpretation by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity science team that some of the bright particles on the ground near the rover are native Martian material. Other light-toned material nearby (see PIA16230) has been assessed as small debris from the spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
› Full image and caption › Latest images › Curiosity gallery › Curiosity videos



Commands will be sent to Curiosity today instructing the rover to collect a third scoop of soil from the "Rocknest" site of windblown Martian sand and dust. Pending evaluation of this Sol 69 (Oct. 15, 2012) scooping, a sample from the scoopful is planned as the first sample for delivery -- later this week -- to one of the rover's internal analytical instruments, the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument. A later scoopful will become the first solid sample for delivery to the rover's other internal analytical instrument, the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.
The rover's second scoopful, collected on Sol 66 (Oct. 12), was intentionally discarded on Sol 67 due to concern about particles of bright material seen in the hole dug by the scooping. Other small pieces of bright material in the Rocknest area have been assessed as debris from the spacecraft. The science team did not want to put spacecraft material into the rover's sample-processing mechanisms. Confidence for going ahead with the third scooping was based on new assessment that other bright particles in the area are native Martian material. One factor in that consideration is seeing some bright particles embedded in clods of Martian soil. Further investigations of the bright particles are planned, including some imaging in the Sol 69 plan
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

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#514 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 02:40 PM

Posted Image
Three bite marks left in the Martian ground by the scoop on the robotic arm of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity are visible in this image taken by the rover's right Navigation Camera during the mission's 69th Martian day, or sol (Oct. 15, 2012). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Mars Soil Sample Delivered for Analysis Inside Rover

Mission Status Report
PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has ingested its first solid sample into an analytical instrument inside the rover, a capability at the core of the two-year mission.
The rover's Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument is analyzing this sample to determine what minerals it contains.
"We are crossing a significant threshold for this mission by using CheMin on its first sample," said Curiosity's project scientist, John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "This instrument gives us a more definitive mineral-identifying method than ever before used on Mars: X-ray diffraction. Confidently identifying minerals is important because minerals record the environmental conditions under which they form."
The sample is a sieved portion -- about as much material as in a baby aspirin -- from the third scoop collected by Curiosity as a windblown patch of dusty sand called "Rocknest." The rover's robotic arm delivered the sample to CheMin's opened inlet funnel on the rover's deck on Oct. 17.
The previous day, the rover shook the scooped material inside sample-processing chambers to scrub internal surfaces of any residue carried from Earth. One earlier scoopful was also used for cleaning. Additional repetitions of this cleaning method will be used before delivery of a future sample to the rover's other internal analytic instrument, the Sample Analysis at Mars investigation, which studies samples' chemistry.
Various small bits of light-toned material on the ground at Rocknest have affected the rover's activities in the past several days. One piece about half an inch (1.3 centimeters) long was noticed on Oct. 7. The rover team postponed use of the robotic arm for two days while investigating this object, and assessed it to be debris from the spacecraft.
Images taken after Curiosity collected its second scoop of Rocknest material on Oct. 12 showed smaller bits of light-toned material in the hole dug by the scooping action. This led to discarding that scoopful rather than using it to scrub the processing mechanisms. Scientists assess these smaller, bright particles to be native Martian material, not from the spacecraft.
"We plan to learn more both about the spacecraft material and about the smaller, bright particles," said Curiosity Project Manager Richard Cook of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena. "We will finish determining whether the spacecraft material warrants concern during future operations. The native Mars particles become fodder for the mission's scientific studies."
During a two-year prime mission, researchers are using Curiosity's 10 instruments to assess whether the study area has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

Posted Image

Bright Particle in Hole Dug by Scooping of Martian Soil

This image shows part of the small pit or bite created when NASA's Mars rover Curiosity collected its second scoop of Martian soil at a sandy patch called "Rocknest." The bright particle near the center of this image, and similar ones elsewhere in the pit, prompted concern because a small, light-toned shred of debris from the spacecraft had been observed previously nearby (PIA16230). However, the mission's science team assessed the bright particles in this scooped pit to be native Martian material rather than spacecraft debris.

This image was taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on Curiosity's arm during the 69th Martian day, or sol, of the mission (Oct. 15, 2012), about a week after the scoop dug this hole. The view here covers an area of ground about 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) across.

Edited by The Ratiocinator, 18 October 2012 - 02:42 PM.

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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

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That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#515 nux4lyfe

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 05:19 PM

this is some fascinating stuff!..great res on the pics.
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13zpnd4.jpg

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#516 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 12:27 AM

Posted Image


Curiosity's First Three Bites Into Martian Ground

Three bite marks left in the Martian ground by the scoop on the robotic arm of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity are visible in this image taken by the rover's right Navigation Camera during the mission's 69th Martian day, or sol (Oct. 15, 2012). The third scoopful, collected on that sol, left the bite or pit farthest to the right. Each of the three bites is about 2 inches (5 centimeters) wide.

Of the two bites to the left, the lower one is where Curiosity collected its first scoopful of Martian material, on Sol 61 (Oct. 7, 2012). The upper one is the site of the second scooping, on Sol 66 (Oct. 12, 2012). The location for all of these scoops, and two more planned, is a ripple of windblown dust and sand at a location called "Rocknest."

The bright circular part of the rover near the bottom center of this image is the observation tray, which is 3 inches (7.8 centimeters) in diameter
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#517 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:41 PM

Curiosity Rover Collects Fourth Scoop of Martian Soil
10.22.12


Posted Image The Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity used its laser and spectrometers to examine what chemical elements are in a drift of Martian sand during the mission's 74th Martian day, or sol (Oct. 20, 2012). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/LPGN/CNRS
› Full image and caption
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shook a scoopful of dusty sand inside its sample-handling mechanism on Sol 75 (Oct. 21, 2012) as the third scrubbing of interior surfaces of the mechanism. The rover team is instructing the rover to deliver a sieved sample from this scoopful -- the mission's fourth -- onto Curiosity's observation tray on Oct. 22 and plans to analyze another sample from the same scoopful with the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument this week.
Curiosity collected this fourth scoop of soil on Sol 74 (Oct. 20). A later scoop will become the first delivered to the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument. While continuing with scooping activities at the "Rocknest" site, the rover also has been examining surroundings with the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) and Mast Camera (Mastcam) instruments, and monitoring environmental conditions with the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD), Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) and Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) instruments of its science payload

http://www.nasa.gov/...ia_id=154192961
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#518 Hobble

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 08:51 AM

So did they ever determine what that white material was, other than just a "native Martian material"?
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#519 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 02:16 PM

So did they ever determine what that white material was, other than just a "native Martian material"?



In other news, though, Curiosity has now actually discovered a bunch of “bright particles” on the surface of Mars, that are actually from Mars. Over the last week, Curiosity has been scooping soil samples (or “bites” in NASA nomenclature) from the Rocknest site on Mars. In these small holes, a bunch of small, bright particles have been found. Originally NASA thought they might be of the same provenance as the piece of plastic, but its scientists have now assessed these particles as “Martian material.” It is not yet known what these bright particles actually are, but they are probably small flecks of crystalline material — perhaps silica.

Curiosity has now taken three bites out of Mars with its scoop. While the first two scoops were discarded, the contents of the third scoop were sieved, and then a small portion of sample (“about as much material as in a baby aspirin,” says NASA) was gobbled up by Curiosity’s on-board Chemical and Mineralogy (CheMin) laboratory. CheMin, which uses X-ray diffraction to analyze the composition of samples, is a key instrument for Curiosity’s two-year prime mission to visit and analyze the base of Mount Sharp. Assuming this first test of CheMin checks out, NASA will probably then try out the other on-board lab, Sample AnalysisPosted Image at Mars (SAM).
NASA isn’t clear about whether CheMin’s first sample contains some of the unidentified bright particles — but if it does, we should know more about their composition in the next few days
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#520 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 02:36 PM

I thought this might interest you to hobble

Black glass holds first Mars soil sample on Earth



Veins of black glass in a meteorite that recently crashed in Morocco contain the first chemical traces of Martian soil brought to Earth. The find represents a rare chance to look closely at ancient surface conditions on Mars.
Robots sent to Mars, such as NASA's Curiosity rover, only have limited capabilities to analyse the soil samples that they take. Until the launch of a sample-return mission, the most thorough way to study Martian rock is via meteorites that originated on Mars, says Hasnaa Chennaoui Aoudjehane of Hassan II University in Casablanca.
In July 2011 people saw a fireball streak across the sky and smash into the Moroccan desert. The 7-kilogram meteorite, dubbed Tissint, broke apart as it fell, and both scientists and private collectors quickly retrieved the fragments.
Initial analysis showed that the rock's chemical composition matches that of a type of Martian basalt. The meteorite was most likely thrown up from the planet about 700,000 years ago as the result of an asteroid impact.
Pristine sample

Tissint is only the fifth Martian meteorite collected promptly after falling to Earth. Most of the 90 or so known Mars rocks that have been found on Earth had been lying around for years. By contrast, the Tissint fragments should provide an unadulterated look at Mars's geology. "It's so fresh, such pristine material," says Aoudjehane.
Her team found that the meteorite is laced with a large amount of bubbly black glass. It contains carbon and nitrogen isotopes that are characteristic of those found in Mars's atmosphere, something that has been seen in other Martian meteorites.
More surprisingly, the glass contains relatively high amounts of light rare-earth elements not found in the rest of the meteorite, including an unusual ratio of cerium isotopes that indicates some of the cerium got oxidised. Conditions that would oxidise cerium are most likely to exist close to Mars's surface.
The team says weakly acidic water may have leached rare-earth elements from Martian soil and deposited them in fractures in surface rocks. Heat from the asteroid impact that ejected Tissint melted the material in the fractures, which crystallised as it cooled to form the black glass.
Further analysis of Tissint should reveal more details of such geochemical processes on Mars, rounding out our picture of the planet's past.
"The history of Mars is interesting for us because it's related to the history of the Earth, and it's important to know how Mars was in the past and how it evolved with the times," says Aoudjehane
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#521 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 03:45 PM

Assessing Drop-Off to Mars Rover's Observation Tray
10.25.12


Posted Image Sample material from the fourth scoop of Martian soil collected by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is on the rover's observation tray in this image taken during the mission's 78th Martian day, or sol, (Oct. 24, 2012) by Curiosity's left Navigation Camera. The tray is 3 inches (7.8 centimeters) in diameter. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
› Larger view
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity used its Mast Camera (Mastcam) during the mission's 78th sol (Oct. 24, 2012) to view soil material on the rover's observation tray. The observations will help assess movement of the sample on the tray in response to vibrations from sample-delivery and sample-processing activities of mechanisms on the rover's arm.
Curiosity is working with material from the fourth scoop of soil it collected at the "Rocknest" patch of dust and sand. On Sol 77, a sieved portion from this scoop was delivered to the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument inside the rover. This is the second soil sample for CheMin analysis. The material from the fourth scoop is also being used to scrub internal surfaces of the rover's sample-processing mechanisms in preparation for delivery of a sample from a later scoop to the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.
Sol 78 activities included analysis of an atmosphere sample by SAM's Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer and monitoring of environmental conditions by the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) and the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD).

http://www.nasa.gov/...ia_id=154597771
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#522 Mr.Habitat

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 07:15 PM

Mobile
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#523 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 11:13 PM

Continuing Work With Scoops at 'Rocknest'

Posted Image

Rock 'Et-Then' Near Curiosity, Sol 82

The Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the arm of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity took this image of a rock called "Et-Then" during the mission's 82nd sol, or Martian day (Oct. 29, 2012.)

The rock's informal name comes from the name of an island in Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada.

MAHLI viewed the rock from a distance of about 15.8 inches (40 centimeters). The image covers an area about 9.5 inches by 7 inches (24 centimeters by 18 centimeters). Et-Then is located near the rover's front left wheel, where the rover has been stationed while scooping soil at the site called "Rocknest."

This is one of three images acquired by MAHLI from slightly different positions so that a three-dimensional information could be used to plan possible future examination of the rock.


Posted Image

Rock 'Burwash' Near Curiosity, Sol 82

This focus-merge image from the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the arm of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows a rock called "Burwash." The rock has a coating of dust on it. The coarser, visible grains are windblown sand.

The focus merge combines portions of eight images taken with the camera held in one position while the MAHLI focus mechanism moved for each of the eight exposures to capture features at different distances in focus. The images were taken during the mission's 82nd sol, or Martian day (Oct. 29, 2012).

MAHLI viewed the rock from a distance of about 4.5 inches (11.5 centimeters). The image covers an area about 3 inches by 2.2 inches (7.6 centimeters by 5.7 centimeters). Burwash is located near the rover's left-front wheel where the rover has been stationed while scooping soil at the site called "Rocknest."
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#524 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:15 AM

Images from mars


Posted Image

Hawaiian Landscape

This image of Mauna Kea in Hawaii shows an area of volcanic soils that contain minerals similar to those identified in the "Rocknest" region on Mars by NASA's Curiosity rover.

Posted Image

Dust Devils Stirring It Up

This set of images from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit shows dust devils tearing across the Martian landscape inside Gusev Crater. These wind-driven events stir up the soil and can be part of globe-encircling storms that transport dust and soil.

Posted Image

Wind-Blown Martian Sand

This pair of images from the Mast Camera on NASA's Curiosity rover shows the upper portion of a wind-blown deposit dubbed "Rocknest." The rover team recently commanded Curiosity to take a scoop of soil from a region located out of frame, below this view. The soil was then analyzed with the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument, or CheMin.
The colors in the image at left are unmodified, showing the scene as it would appear on Mars, which has a dusty red-colored atmosphere. The image at right has been white-balanced to show what the same area would look like under the lighting conditions on Earth.

The rounded rock located at the upper center portion of the images is about 8 inches (0.2 meters) across.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Edited by The Ratiocinator, 31 October 2012 - 12:27 AM.

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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#525 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:24 AM

Posted Image

First X-ray View of Martian Soil

This graphic shows results of the first analysis of Martian soil by the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) experiment on NASA's Curiosity rover. The image reveals the presence of crystalline feldspar, pyroxenes and olivine mixed with some amorphous (non-crystalline) material. The soil sample, taken from a wind-blown deposit within Gale Crater, where the rover landed, is similar to volcanic soils in Hawaii.

Curiosity scooped the soil on Oct. 15, 2012, the 69th sol, or Martian day, of operations. It was delivered to CheMin for X-ray diffraction analysis on October 17, 2012, the 71st sol. By directing an X-ray beam at a sample and recording how X-rays are scattered by the sample at an atomic level, the instrument can definitively identify and quantify minerals on Mars for the first time. Each mineral has a unique pattern of rings, or "fingerprint," revealing its presence.
The colors in the graphic represent the intensity of the X-rays, with red being the most intense.

Posted Image

Olivine on Earth

The Martian soil examined by the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument on NASA's Curiosity rover shows the diffraction signature, or "fingerprint," of the mineral olivine, shown here on Earth in the form of tumbled crystals about a quarter-inch (several millimeters) in size. The semi-precious gem peridot is a variety of olivine.
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#526 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 02:58 PM

Posted Image

New Self-Portrait Shows All of Curiosity on Mars




On Oct. 31, Curiosity's Mars Hand Lens Imager capture a set of thumbnail images stitched together to create a full-color self-portrait.

This view documents the state of the rover and allows mission engineers to track changes over time, such as dust accumulation and wheel wear. The mosaic shows the rover at "Rocknest," the spot in Gale Crater where the mission's first scoop sampling took place.
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#527 Hobble

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 04:42 PM

LP
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#528 YaK

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 04:46 PM

New Self-Portrait Shows All of Curiosity on Mars




On Oct. 31, Curiosity's Mars Hand Lens Imager capture a set of thumbnail images stitched together to create a full-color self-portrait.

This view documents the state of the rover and allows mission engineers to track changes over time, such as dust accumulation and wheel wear. The mosaic shows the rover at "Rocknest," the spot in Gale Crater where the mission's first scoop sampling took place.

Wow, that is an amazing "seemingly impossible" perspective of the rover
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Posted Image
"It felt almost like it was a dream," Burrows said of his game-winner.
"But guys jumped on me and I couldn't breathe, so I knew it was right."

#529 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 01:59 PM

Wow, that is an amazing "seemingly impossible" perspective of the rover


I believe that they have blanked out the arm that is supporting the camera .
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#530 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 02:04 PM

Posted Image

Volatiles on Mars

This illustration shows the locations and interactions of volatiles on Mars. Volatiles are molecules that readily evaporate, converting to their gaseous form, such as water and carbon dioxide. On Mars, and other planets, these molecules are released from the crust and planetary interior into the atmosphere via volcanic plumes. On Mars, significant amounts of carbon dioxide go back and forth between polar ice caps and the atmosphere depending on the season
This illustration shows the locations and interactions of volatiles on Mars. Volatiles are molecules that readily evaporate, converting to their gaseous form, such as water and carbon dioxide. On Mars, and other planets, these molecules are released from the crust and planetary interior into the atmosphere via volcanic plumes. On Mars, significant amounts of carbon dioxide go back and forth between polar ice caps and the atmosphere depending on the season (when it's colder, this gas freezes into the polar ice caps).

New results from the Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM, instrument on NASA's Curiosity rover show that the lighter forms of certain volatiles, also called isotopes, have preferentially escaped from the atmosphere, leaving behind a larger proportion of heavy isotopes. Scientists will continue to examine this phenomenon as the mission continues, looking for isotope signatures in rocks. One question they plan to address is: To what degree have atmospheric volatiles been incorporated into rocks in the crust through the action of fluids, perhaps in the distant past?

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Posted Image

Potential Sources and Sinks of Methane on Mars

If the atmosphere of Mars contains methane, various possibilities have been proposed for where the methane could come from and how it could disappear.

Potential non-biological sources for methane on Mars include comets, degradation of interplanetary dust particles by ultraviolet light, and interaction between water and rock. A potential biological source would be microbes, if microbes have ever livedon Mars. Potential sinks for removing methane from the atmosphere are photochemistry in the atmosphere and loss of methane to the surface.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech, SAM/GSFC

Posted Image

The Five Most Abundant Gases in the Martian Atmosphere

This graph shows the percentage abundance of five gases in the atmosphere of Mars, as measured by the Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer instrument of the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument suite on NASA's Mars rover in October 2012. The season was early spring in Mars' southern hemisphere, and the location was inside Mars' Gale Crater, at 4.49 degrees south latitude, 137.42 degrees east longitudeThe graph uses as logarithmic scale for volume percentage of the atmosphere so that these gases with very different concentrations can all be plotted. By far the predominant gas is carbon dioxide, making up 95.9 percent of the atmosphere's volume. The next four most abundant gases are argon, nitrogen, oxygen and carbon monoxide. Researchers will use SAM repeatedly throughout Curiosity's mission on Mars to check for seasonal changes in atmospheric composition.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech, SAM/GSFC
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#531 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 02:39 PM

NASA Rover Finds Clues to Changes in Mars' Atmosphere
11.02.12


Posted Image This picture shows a lab demonstration of the measurement chamber inside the Tunable Laser Spectrometer, an instrument that is part of the Sample Analysis at Mars investigation on NASA's Curiosity rover. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Posted Image This graph shows the percentage abundance of five gases in the atmosphere of Mars, as measured by the Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer instrument of the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument suite on NASA's Mars rover in October 2012. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech, SAM/GSFC
› Full image and caption
PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's car-sized rover, Curiosity, has taken significant steps toward understanding how Mars may have lost much of its original atmosphere.
Learning what happened to the Martian atmosphere will help scientists assess whether the planet ever was habitable. The present atmosphere of Mars is 100 times thinner than Earth's.
A set of instruments aboard the rover has ingested and analyzed samples of the atmosphere collected near the "Rocknest" site in Gale Crater where the rover is stopped for research. Findings from the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instruments suggest that loss of a fraction of the atmosphere, resulting from a physical process favoring retention of heavier isotopes of certain elements, has been a significant factor in the evolution of the planet. Isotopes are variants of the same element with different atomic weights.
Initial SAM results show an increase of five percent in heavier isotopes of carbon in the atmospheric carbon dioxide compared to estimates of the isotopic ratios present when Mars formed. These enriched ratios of heavier isotopes to lighter ones suggest the top of the atmosphere may have been lost to interplanetary space. Losses at the top of the atmosphere would deplete lighter isotopes. Isotopes of argon also show enrichment of the heavy isotope, matching previous estimates of atmosphere composition derived from studies of Martian meteorites on Earth.
Scientists theorize that in Mars' distant past its environment may have been quite different, with persistent water and a thicker atmosphere. NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, mission will investigate possible losses from the upper atmosphere when it arrives at Mars in 2014.
With these initial sniffs of Martian atmosphere, SAM also made the most sensitive measurements ever to search for methane gas on Mars. Preliminary results reveal little to no methane. Methane is of interest as a simple precursor chemical for life. On Earth, it can be produced by either biological or non-biological processes.
Methane has been difficult to detect from Earth or the current generation of Mars orbiters because the gas exists on Mars only in traces, if at all. The Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS) in SAM provides the first search conducted within the Martian atmosphere for this molecule. The initial SAM measurements place an upper limit of just a few parts methane per billion parts of Martian atmosphere, by volume, with enough uncertainty that the amount could be zero.
"Methane is clearly not an abundant gas at the Gale Crater site, if it is there at all. At this point in the mission we're just excited to be searching for it," said SAM TLS lead Chris Webster of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "While we determine upper limits on low values, atmospheric variability in the Martian atmosphere could yet hold surprises for us."
In Curiosity's first three months on Mars, SAM has analyzed atmosphere samples with two laboratory methods. One is a mass spectrometer investigating the full range of atmospheric gases. The other, TLS, has focused on carbon dioxide and methane. During its two-year prime mission, the rover also will use an instrument called a gas chromatograph that separates and identifies gases. The instrument also will analyze samples of soil and rock, as well as more atmosphere samples.
"With these first atmospheric measurements we already can see the power of having a complex chemical laboratory like SAM on the surface of Mars," said SAM Principal Investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Both atmospheric and solid sample analyses are crucial for understanding Mars' habitability."
SAM is set to analyze its first solid sample in the coming weeks, beginning the search for organic compounds in the rocks and soils of Gale Crater. Analyzing water-bearing minerals and searching for and analyzing carbonates are high priorities for upcoming SAM solid sample analyses.
Researchers are using Curiosity's 10 instruments to investigate whether areas in Gale Crater ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, and built Curiosity. The SAM instrument was developed at Goddard with instrument contributions from Goddard, JPL and the University of Paris in France.

Edited by The Ratiocinator, 06 November 2012 - 02:40 PM.

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That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

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#532 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 02:33 PM

Rover's 'SAM' Lab Instrument Suite Tastes Soil
11.13.12


This subframe image from the left Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows the covers in place over two sample inlet funnels of the rover's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Mission Status Report
PASADENA, Calif. -- A pinch of fine sand and dust became the first solid Martian sample deposited into the biggest instrument on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity: the Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM.
Located inside the rover, SAM examines the chemistry of samples it ingests, checking particularly for chemistry relevant to whether an environment can support life. Curiosity's robotic arm delivered SAM's first taste of Martian soil to an inlet port on the rover deck on Nov. 9. During the following two days, SAM used mass spectrometry, gas chromatography and laser spectrometry to analyze the sample.
The sample came from the patch of windblown material called "Rocknest," which had provided a sample previously for mineralogical analysis by Curiosity's Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument. CheMin also received a new sample from the same Rocknest scoop that fed SAM. SAM has previously analyzed samples of the Martian atmosphere.
"We received good data from this first solid sample," said SAM Principal Investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "We have a lot of data analysis to do, and we are planning to get additional samples of Rocknest material to add confidence about what we learn."
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the rover.

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Edited by The Ratiocinator, 13 November 2012 - 02:33 PM.

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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

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That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#533 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 03:35 PM

NASA Rover Providing New Weather and Radiation Data About Mars
11.15.12


Posted Image NASA's Mars rover Curiosity used a mechanism on its robotic arm to dig up five scoopfuls of material from a patch of dusty sand called "Rocknest," producing the five bite-mark pits visible in this image from the rover's left Navigation Camera (Navcam). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
› Full image and caption › Latest images › Curiosity gallery › Curiosity videos

Posted Image This diagram illustrates Mars' "thermal tides," a weather phenomenon responsible for large, daily variations in pressure at the Martian surface. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ashima Research/SWRI
› Full image and caption
PASADENA, Calif. -- Observations of wind patterns and natural radiation patterns on Mars by NASA's Curiosity rover are helping scientists better understand the environment on the Red Planet's surface.
Researchers using the car-sized mobile laboratory have identified transient whirlwinds, mapped winds in relation to slopes, tracked daily and seasonal changes in air pressure, and linked rhythmic changes in radiation to daily atmospheric changes. The knowledge being gained about these processes helps scientists interpret evidence about environmental changes on Mars that might have led to conditions favorable for life.
During the first 12 weeks after Curiosity landed in an area named Gale Crater, an international team of researchers analyzed data from more than 20 atmospheric events with at least one characteristic of a whirlwind recorded by the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) instrument. Those characteristics can include a brief dip in air pressure, a change in wind direction, a change in wind speed, a rise in air temperature or a dip in ultraviolet light reaching the rover. Two of the events included all five characteristics.
In many regions of Mars, dust-devil tracks and shadows have been seen from orbit, but those visual clues have not been seen in Gale Crater. One possibility is that vortex whirlwinds arise at Gale without lifting as much dust as they do elsewhere.
"Dust in the atmosphere has a major role in shaping the climate on Mars," said Manuel de la Torre Juarez of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. He is the investigation scientist for REMS, which Spain provided for the mission. "The dust lifted by dust devils and dust storms warms the atmosphere."
Dominant wind direction identified by REMS has surprised some researchers who expected slope effects to produce north-south winds. The rover is just north of a mountain called Mount Sharp. If air movement up and down the mountain's slope governed wind direction, dominant winds generally would be north-south. However, east-west winds appear to predominate. The rim of Gale Crater may be a factor.
"With the crater rim slope to the north and Mount Sharp to the south, we may be seeing more of the wind blowing along the depression in between the two slopes, rather than up and down the slope of Mount Sharp," said Claire Newman, a REMS investigator at Ashima Research in Pasadena. "If we don't see a change in wind patterns as Curiosity heads up the slope of Mount Sharp -- that would be a surprise."
REMS monitoring of air pressure has tracked both a seasonal increase and a daily rhythm. Neither was unexpected, but the details improve understanding of atmospheric cycles on present-day Mars, which helps with estimating how the cycles may have operated in the past.
The seasonal increase results from tons of carbon dioxide, which had been frozen into a southern winter ice cap, returning into the atmosphere as southern spring turns to summer. The daily cycle of higher pressure in the morning and lower pressure in the evening results from daytime heating of the atmosphere by the sun. As morning works its way westward around the planet, so does a wave of heat-expanded atmosphere, known as a thermal tide.
Effects of that atmospheric tide show up in data from Curiosity's Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD). This instrument monitors high-energy radiation considered to be a health risk to astronauts and a factor in whether microbes could survive on Mars' surface.
"We see a definite pattern related to the daily thermal tides of the atmosphere," said RAD Principal Investigator Don Hassler of the Southwest Research Institute's Boulder, Colo., branch. "The atmosphere provides a level of shielding, and so charged-particle radiation is less when the atmosphere is thicker. Overall, Mars' atmosphere reduces the radiation dose compared to what we saw during the flight to Mars."
The overall goal of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission is to use 10 instruments on Curiosity to assess whether areas inside Gale Crater ever offered a habitable environment for microbes.
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, and built Curiosity
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

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That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#534 VICanucksfan5551

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 03:39 PM

http://www.npr.org/2...sts-mum-for-now
I'm really excited to find out what they discovered
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#535 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 12:24 AM

http://www.npr.org/2...sts-mum-for-now
I'm really excited to find out what they discovered


Good find mate :)

Just reading the article and sensing the excitement of the scientists has got me drooling in anticapation <_<
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

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That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#536 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 12:27 AM

Curiosity Rover Preparing for Thanksgiving Activities
11.20.12


Posted Image NASA's Mars rover Curiosity drove 83 feet eastward during the 102nd Martian day, or sol, of the mission (Nov. 18, 2012), and used its left navigation camera to record this view ahead at the end of the drive. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
› Full image and caption › Latest images › Curiosity gallery › Curiosity videos › Related video

Posted Image NASA's Mars rover Curiosity drove 6.2 feet (1.9 meters) during the 100th Martian day, or sol, of the mission (Nov. 16, 2012). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
› Full image and caption

Posted Image NASA's Mars rover Curiosity drove 6.2 feet (1.9 meters) during the 100th Martian day, or sol, of the mission (Nov. 16, 2012). The rover used its Navigation Camera after the drive to record the images combined into this stereo, panoramic view. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
› Full image and caption
Mission Status Report
PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity completed a touch-and-go inspection of one rock on Sunday, Nov. 18, then pivoted and, on the same day, drove toward a Thanksgiving overlook location.
Last week, Curiosity drove for the first time after spending several weeks in soil-scooping activities at one location. On Friday, Nov. 16, the rover drove 6.2 feet (1.9 meters) to get within arm's reach of a rock called "Rocknest 3." On Sunday, it touched that rock with the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) on its arm, and took two 10-minute APXS readings of data about the chemical elements in the rock. Then Curiosity stowed its arm and drove 83 feet (25.3 meters) eastward toward a target called "Point Lake."
"We have done touches before, and we've done goes before, but this is our first 'touch-and-go' on the same day," said Curiosity Mission Manager Michael Watkins of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "It is a good sign that the rover team is getting comfortable with more complex operational planning, which will serve us well in the weeks ahead."
During a Thanksgiving break, the team will use Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam) from Point Lake to examine possible routes and targets to the east. A priority is to choose a rock for the first use of the rover's hammering drill, which will collect samples of powder from rock interiors.
Although Curiosity has departed the Rocknest patch of windblown sand and dust where it scooped up soil samples in recent weeks, the sample-handling mechanism on the rover's arm is still holding some soil from the fifth and final scoop collected at Rocknest. The rover is carrying this sample so it can be available for analysis by instruments within the rover if scientists choose that option in coming days.
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the rover.

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Marjane Satrapi

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That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#537 Hobble

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 07:40 AM

Excited for this "big discovery". Hope it's huge, like fossils or organics.

Edited by Hobble, 21 November 2012 - 07:41 AM.

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#538 nux4lyfe

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 12:38 AM

Curiosity makes potentially explosive discovery, checking data: NASA

Washington: The Curiosity Mars rover has made a potentially explosive discovery, but NASA scientists are keeping it under wraps to double-check the spacecraft’s calculations, RIA Novosti reported.
Chief mission scientist John Grotzinger told National Public Radio that the possible discovery, gleaned from a sample of Martian soil collected by the six-wheeled vehicle, will “be one for the history books”. “It’s looking really good,” he said.
Posted Image
AFP
But Grotzinger, a geologist at the prestigious California Institute of Technology, added that NASA scientists are taking every precaution to verify the data collected by Curiosity, which was launched late last year and landed on Mars in August.
The news follows on the heels of what scientists earlier thought was the discovery of methane— typically a sign of living organisms —on Mars, Grotzinger said, only to determine later that the air likely accompanied the spacecraft from its Florida Launchpad.
He added that NASA would convene a press conference in early December to reveal the results of Curiosity’s research.
Scientists, meanwhile, have let their imaginations run wild as to what Curiosity might beam back to earth.
“If it’s going in the history books, organic material is what I expect,” Peter Smith, a University of Arizona researcher who served on a 2008 Mars mission for the Phoenix Lander, told online tech website Wired.
“It may be just a hint, but even a hint would be exciting,” he added.



Awweeee keeping it under wraps!?, c'mon give us a clue or 2, I thought we were in it together..
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#539 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 12:46 AM

Man these guys know how to keep one on tenterhooks ::D
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Marjane Satrapi

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That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#540 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 12:57 AM

Could Curiosity rover have discovered organic material on Mars?


By Adam Mann
21 November 12

Posted Image


Much of the internet is buzzing over upcoming "big news" from Nasa's Curiosity rover, but the space agency's scientists are keeping quiet about the details.
The report comes by way of the rover's principal investigator, geologist John Grotzinger of Caltech, who said that Curiosity has uncovered exciting new results from a sample of Martian soil recently scooped up and placed in the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.
"This data is gonna be one for the history books. It's looking really good," Grotzinger told NPR in a segment published 20 November. Curiosity's SAM instrument contains a vast array of tools that can vaporise soil and rocks to analyse them and measure the abundances of certain light elements such as carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen -- chemicals typically associated with life.
The mystery will be revealed shortly, though. Grotzinger told Wired.com through email that Nasa would hold a press conference about the results during the 2012 American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco from the third to the seventh of Decembre. Because it's so potentially earth-shaking, Grotzinger said the team remains cautious and is checking and double-checking their results. But while Nasa is refusing to discuss the findings with anyone outside the team, especially reporters, other scientists are free to speculate.
"If it's going in the history books, organic material is what I expect," says planetary scientist Peter Smith from the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. Smith is formerly the principal investigator on a previous Mars mission, the Phoenix lander, which touched down at the Martian North Pole in 2008. "It may be just a hint, but even a hint would be exciting."
Smith added that he is not in contact with anyone from the Curiosity team about their results and offered his assessment as an informed outside researcher.
Organic molecules are those that contain carbon and are potential indicators of life. During its mission, Phoenix heated a sample of soil to search for organics but these efforts were stymied by the presence of perchlorates, chemical salts that sit in the Martian soil. Perchlorates react to heat and destroy any complex organic molecules, leaving only carbon dioxide, which is abundant in the Martian atmosphere.
The Viking landers, which explored opposite sides of Mars in the late 1970s, also conducted a search for organic molecules and came up empty. For decades afterward, astronomers considered Mars to be a dead planet, with conditions not very conducive to life. After the results from Phoenix, scientists realised that perchlorates were probably messing with those earlier findings as well, and could account for their negative outcome.
Curiosity's suite of laboratory instruments is able to slowly heat a sample in a way that doesn't trigger the perchlorates. They can also weigh any molecules present, determining how much carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen they are made from. Simple organic compounds wouldn't be completely shocking, said Smith, since these probably come from meteorites originating in the asteroid belt and probably are around on present-day Mars. But they would indicate that the building blocks for life are present on Mars and might only need the addition of water, which Mars had in the past, in order to produce organisms.
"If they found signatures of a very complex organic type, that would be astounding," said Smith, since they would likely be leftovers from complex life forms that once roamed Mars. But the odds of finding such a startling result in a sample of sand scooped from a random dune are "very, very low," Smith said.
Smith cautioned against speculating too much, since rumours have a way of spreading rapidly when it comes to any discussion of potential life on Mars. During his tenure on the Phoenix mission, his team was evaluating the interesting perchlorate results, which they kept secret during analysis. Rumours got out and then became worse when some unsubstantiated report claimed a member of his team was meeting with the White House.
"When you keep things secret, people start thinking all kinds of crazy things," he said.


If it is organic material then it is truly earth shattering news .

Looks like we will be waiting until the 3rd of december, at the earliest .
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Marjane Satrapi

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That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.





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