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January 19, 2011

New Mars Rover

NASA is developing a new Mars rover called Sample Analysis at Mars, or "SAM." SAM's main objective is to collect samples with hopes of discovering carbon-containing compounds called organic molecules. The hope is that these molecules will be the same as those here on Earth. SAM will be roving around, Curiosity, Mars (the name of the landing site). Carbon and hydrogen are able to exist without life, but the reverse is not possible. Discovery of these elements will only aid in the discovering of life on Mars, should it exist.

NASA plans on launching the Curiosity rover somewhere between November 25th and December 18th of this year. It is scheduled to land on the Martian surface in August of 2012 and will be in operation for two years. SAM and nine other instruments will be utilized to discover whether or not the environment around Curiosity ever played host to favorable life-sustaining conditions and if the conditions currently allow for the preservation of life, should it ever have existed.

The article can be read here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110119095406.htm

Posted by jshglass at January 19, 2011 01:45 PM


I think that this is a really exciting project. In my opinion anything that gives insight to the possibility of life on other planets, especially ones so close, is a worthwhile investment. One thing that I noticed while reading the post is that the spcaecraft would be launched in November but wouldn't reach Mars until August of the following year. The fact that it takes nine months for something moving that fast to reach a planet that is pretty close to us in comparison to other places in the universe just puts it into perspective how expansive everything really is.

Posted by: emschnei at January 20, 2011 11:22 AM

I think this launch is going to be very exciting, I'm curious to see how it goes and if the new rover will detect any carbon-containing compounds. For me, possibilities of any type of life on another planet is one of the things that most interests me. I believe its very much possible that another planet could contain similar compounds to those here on Earth and I can't wait to hear more about this project!

Posted by: schultka at January 21, 2011 11:56 AM

Yes, this is very exciting news. I am glad to see how these steps are taken. I am just curious as to know how to measure sustainable life on another planet? There are a lot of factors involved. In your words, "favorable life-sustaining conditions", "if the conditions currently allow for the preservation of life".

What criteria you base these on? It is hard to tell and I would like to know more about the means of assessment.

Posted by: aarthi at January 23, 2011 11:57 AM

I believe that this is very exciting news especially with the technology we have produced today. Technology is insane, and I think that we can learn about Mars in immense ways through it. I may be mistaken but in the past I think they have found meteroites from Mars that look like they contain fossilized microbes. So, through this launch maybe we can find out if that could actually be a possiblity. I hope they can gather useful information through this launch because I believe it is necessary to gather information on other planets and their possibility of containing life, and their similarities to Earth. I can't wait to hear what information they can gather about this launch.

Posted by: melmccor at January 23, 2011 01:31 PM

I wonder if this mission could aid with the search for life outside of our solar system. Astronomers have already identified many planets outside of our solar system that may or may not contain life. Most of these planets are outside of the zone that is typically considered possible to sustain life. It is valuable that we can study Mars, because it is close enough for our instruments to actually visit. Perhaps visiting and researching Mars can provide more insight to planets outside of our solar system that are too far away to visit.

Posted by: emslade at January 24, 2011 08:46 PM

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