Tag Archives | Curiosity

NASA’s Curiosity rover finds fresh signs of ingredients for life on Mars

Curiosity Rover at the John Klein drill site where some of the samples were taken. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Rover at the John Klein drill site where some of the samples were taken. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Amina Khan via Phys.org:

Mars’s life-friendly past just got friendlier. Using samples previously collected by the NASA rover Curiosity, scientists have discovered evidence of nitrates in Martian rock: nitrogen compounds that on Earth are a crucial source of nutrients for living things.

The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, lend further support to the idea that the Red Planet, now barren and dry, could once have hosted habitable environments.

Although planetary scientists have been on the hunt for organic carbon – the type of carbon-containing molecules that could be used and produced by living things – nitrogen also plays an essential role in life as we know it, said lead author Jennifer Stern, a planetary geochemist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

For example, nitrogen is a key component of nucleobases that make up RNA and DNA, and of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.

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NASA Rover Finds Active and Ancient Organic Chemistry on Mars

The first definitive detection of Martian organic chemicals in material on the surface of Mars came from analysis by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover of sample powder from this mudstone target, "Cumberland." Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The first definitive detection of Martian organic chemicals in material on the surface of Mars came from analysis by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover of sample powder from this mudstone target, “Cumberland.” Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

via Nasa from December 16:

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory’s drill.

“This temporary increase in methane — sharply up and then back down — tells us there must be some relatively localized source,” said Sushil Atreya of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, a member of the Curiosity rover science team. “There are many possible sources, biological or non-biological, such as interaction of water and rock.”

Researchers used Curiosity’s onboard Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory a dozen times in a 20-month period to sniff methane in the atmosphere.

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Curiosity Finds a Weird ‘Ball’ on Mars

The 'ball' (left of center) can be seen in this sol 746 observation by Mars rover Curiosity's Mastcam. According to NASA scientists it is likely an example of a Martian concretion. NASA/JPL-CALTECH/MSSS

The ‘ball’ (left of center) can be seen in this sol 746 observation by Mars rover Curiosity’s Mastcam. According to NASA scientists it is likely an example of a Martian concretion.
NASA/JPL-CALTECH/MSSS

via Discovery:

If there’s one thing to be said for Curiosity’s mission on Mars so far, it certainly hasn’t been boring. Although the six-wheeled rover has taken thousands of photographs of Martian rocks, the rich diversity of Mars’ landscape has provided many beautiful examples of planetary geology and some geology that is downright weird.

Take this recent photographic example from the Mars Science Laboratory’s Mastcam camera that was uploaded to the mission’s photo archive on sol 746 (Sept. 11). While compiling a mosaic of images of the surrounding landscape, Curiosity captured a rather un-Mars-like shape atop a rocky outcrop.

There’s a perfect-looking sphere sitting proudly on a flat rock surface. It’s dusty, but under that dust it appears a little darker than the surrounding rock.

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Mysterious Silhouette on Mars

Picture: NASA (PD)

Via Yahoo:

A mysterious blotch that appeared along the horizon in a photo from the surface of Mars stirred speculation about what it might be, as two hours later it was gone.

One image from the Curiosity rover as it landed on the fourth planet from the sun showed a “faint but distinctive” image on the horizon, the Los Angeles Times reported. However, a subsequent batch of images sent from the unmanned rover two hours later showed no trace of the blotch.

One theory put forth by space enthusiasts in the L.A. Times story is that Curiosity had somehow snapped a photo of part of the spacecraft that escorted the rover through the Martian atmosphere crash-landing a distance away.

Opinions welcome. A few to get us started, based solely on the contour & shape of the smudgy silhouette:

  1. Bigfoot
  2. Martian Nephilim
  3. Mr. Clean
  4. Jawa Sandcrawler

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