In the search for life on Mars: Mount Sharp – a turning point and the main purpose of Curiosity

Jun

8

2013

In the search for life on Mars: Mount Sharp – a turning point and the main purpose of Curiosity

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The last four months of the rover Curiosity Mars plowed prairie almost the same place, from time to time shaking the dust from the drill and not letting rust spectrometer CheMin and complex instruments SAM. Currently, NASA experts have come to a tipping point in the mission of $ 2.5 billion and employed a trail to the main goal – the mountain Sharpe height of 5 km, located in the “heart” of the Gale crater, on the edge of which 10 months ago landed Curiosity.

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“We are preparing Curiosity to a new job, it will be a long path, which will launch a completely different stage of the mission,” – said Joy Crisp of JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, JPL NASA). – “We selected Gale crater from Mount Sharp (Eolida). The layers of rocks of this mountain are a kind of textbook that holds billions of years of geological history of the Red Planet. These layers of rocks resemble the Grand Canyon. ”

A detailed study of the mountain Sharpe could help scientists find the answer to all the exciting question: “Was there life on Mars.”

At the disposal of the rover, which is currently located at a place called Glenelg spot, there are still a few weeks. It is worth noting that Glenelg is a little deviation from the intended “rocky route.” Orbital pictures of the place caused some interest among scientists. The study showed that the samples taken in the rock under the name of John Klein, indicate the existence of favorable conditions for microbial life.

Over the next few weeks, a mobile laboratory weighing 1 ton will be busy with the execution of multiple jobs in Glenelg. First, Curiosity will study in detail the rocky sediment called Point Lake, which is in its structure resembles Swiss cheese. Rock may be composed of volcanic lava or sedimentary rocks that have been washed river .

“It’s a good mystery,” – said Joy.

Second, the rover will also have to carefully examine the unusual formation Shaler in Glenelg. Scientists suggest that at this point in the past, it was the river bed. Along the way he uses his neutron detector DAN (Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons) to detect signs of water on the border between the regions of mudstone and sandstone.

The leaders of the mission will be at this time to study the orbital pictures paved route length of 8 km, which is to be done by Curiosity Glenelg to Mount Sharp, for the detection of trans-shipment points of scientific interest. Currently counter measuring the distance traveled rover shows the 733 m kind of marathon 8 km Curiosity can become a serious challenge.

“In order to cover the distance from Glenelg to Mount Sharp will require 10-12 months”, – said Jim Erickson’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Joy Crisp said she and other members of the team can not wait to open a new chapter of the mission. The last four months she called a kind of vacation.

On the way to Mount Sharp’s Curiosity rover will pass through different Martian landmarks. For example, a place called “Martian rat” was created as a result of processes such as wind erosion, abrasion and chemical erosion.

“Scientists are often passionate about the textures of rocks and try to figure out what reminds them of some form of rock. It is worth noting that it takes very little time. It’s kind of a game. Agree, many are interested in the Martian rat. ”

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Tags: Curiosity , NASA , Life on Mars , Mars , Mars Rover .

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