Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Interesting Find on Mars & Other Red Planet Updates

Hey Space Placers!

NASA's Curiosity rover has made a very interesting find on the Red Planet.
Curiosity Selfie
Using its onboard sample laboratory Curiosity has detected Nitrogen which is a biologically useful element for life as we know it. The discovery was made after a sample was heated up and analyzed. 

This is further evidence that the location where Curiosity has been exploring, Gale Crater, was habitable for life in the distant past. There is no evidence to support that this Nitrogen was caused by biological processes currently ongoing at Mars as the planet is deemed inhospitable for life.

But we know that Mars in its ancient past had loads of water - in fact new research just published states that there was enough water on the planet 4 billion years ago to cover all land to a depth of 140 meters! It is more probable that there was an ocean that held the majority of the water and some depths could have reached 1.6 km.

ESO/M. Kornmesser/N. Risinger (skysurvey.org
And NASA's other operating Rover, 11-year old Opportunity, just had its memory reformatted to help keep the science coming. Pretty amazing that a rover with a projected lifespan of 90 days on the Red Plane is still going strong 11 years later! Opporunity's sister rover, Spirit, ceased operations a few years ago when it got stuck and could not get solar power to stay alive.

Here is a recent photo taken by Opportunity of Marathon Valley:

I'll have one more update tomorrow on Mars. Such an interesting planet!!

Sky Guy in VA

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