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March 24, 2011

New Mars rover gets a test taste of Mars conditions

Between November 25 and December 18, 2011, the U.S. plans to send the Curiosity rover to Mars. However, preparations are starting now, beginning with the rover being tested inside a 25 foot chamber, which will represent various environmental conditions simulating those on Mars. After these tests, Curiosity will be shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center before taking flight. It will be sent to one of four places on Mars suspected to possibly contain life: Eberswalde, Gale, Holden, or Mawrth. I believe this is a great news item, as just today we attempted to find a suitable landing site on Mars during discussion section, and it is actually happening as we speak in the real world. Researchers have found these four sites to be suited for both life and safe landing. The outcomes of this rover mission could bring outstanding results that shape the future of biological astronomy.

Article Link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110321101916.htm
Mars Sites Link: http://marsoweb.nas.nasa.gov/landingsites/msl/memoranda/sites_jan11/Golombek_MSL_LS_2011.pdf

Posted by sekoch at March 24, 2011 03:22 PM

Comments

How interesting that after we've looked into what comes into discussion when deciding where to land a Mars rover, it will actually be put into practice soon! I wonder what those four places are like that they're sending the rover to; they must contain evidence of trace amount of water, but does this mean that they won't be at a high elevation due to possible recent geothermal activity beneath the surface? After all, we learned that NASA is looking for evidence of life, not life itself just in case we contaminate or disrupt the area.

Posted by: brdoss at March 24, 2011 04:04 PM

When I was taking Biology class in high school, I remember how excited my teacher got when he shared a news article with us about how some bacteria were discovered to be able to live off methane in Canada. It's examples of extremophiles like this that makes many people expect to find alien life on other planets. Hopefully we'll be able to either confirm these expectations or to put them to rest. Who knows? We might find some Martians after all!
Here's the link to the Methane-eating bacteria from Canada: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37574455/ns/technology_and_science-space/

Posted by: jeffkong at March 26, 2011 03:29 PM

This is very relevant and exciting to me too! In class we learned about how the Chilean Atacama Desert is a location on Earth that resembles the surface of Mars. It makes me wonder if NASA could test their rover here in addition to simulating environmental conditions in the chamber for added assurance that the rover will function as planned. Perhaps it could also practice collecting samples to examine for extremophiles just as it will on Mars.

Posted by: emslade at March 30, 2011 03:32 PM

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