We’ve seen Mars in cartoons and Sci-Fi literature and films since time immemorial, but how much do we actually know about this strange planet, thought to be barren and lonely?
NASA rover Curiosity is part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission to uncover the unknown on the Martian planet. Launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011, the rover completed a Martian year (equivalent to 687 Earth days) on 24th June, 2014.
So, what has curiosity discovered until now?
- Curiosity brought back astonishing readings, hinting that favorable conditions for microbial life existed on Mars about a billion years ago.
- The rover spotted a site with essential elements like sulphur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon.
- The clay minerals in the rock also suggest an aqueous environment that was neutral in pH, not too salty and, perhaps even fit for human consumption.
- Just seven weeks after Curiosity touched down, mission scientists announced that the rover had found an ancient streambed, where water once flowed knee-deep for thousands of years at a time.
- These discoveries prove that some parts of Mars may have been habitable, once upon a time.
The rover is currently exploring new territories of Mars inside the Gale Crater.
A few other questions this project aspires to answer are:
- What kind of complex carbon compounds are present on Mars?
- Can we find bio-signatures or any sign of life that indicate it may exist or may have existed on the planet?
- How are we to characterize the Martian atmosphere?
- What is the current water cycle and distribution system on Mars?
- How can the radiations on Mars affect humans and to what extent so?
Here’s to hoping that Curiosity will continue uncovering more details and intricacies associated with the red planet making us become more aware of the happenings and conditions on the red planet.
Keep yourself regularly updated with the changes and developments in the mission through their social media pages.