Friday, 24 August 2012

Curiosity, Gale Crater, Bradbury Landing, Mount Sharp

Curiosity is the name of NASA's Mars Rover. It had a successful landing on August 6th 2012. It landed in an ancient impact basin called Gale Crater, located in the planet's southern hemisphere near the equator. The landing site has been named "Bradbury Landing" after Ray Bradbury, a science fiction author and space aficionado.

Thanks to Anon, who has pointed out another important location for Curiosity: Mount Sharp

Mount Sharp is the identified destination of Curiosity. It is a huge 18,000 foot tall (5.5 kilometer) mysterious mound that covers the center of the 96 mile (154 km) wide crater.  The layered sediments in Mount Sharp could unveil the geologic history of Mars stretching back billions of years and reveal why the planet transitioned from an ancient, wet period of flowing liquid water on the surface to the dry, desiccated era of today.

The mission goal of Curiosity is to ascertain whether the Red Planet was ever capable of supporting microbial life, past or present and to search for the signs of life in the form of organic molecules during the 2 year primary mission phase.

Therefore it is also equipped with the DAN (Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons) instrument provided by Russia to check for water bound into minerals as hydrates in the top three feet (one meter) of soil beneath the rover.
This is done by shooting neutrons into the ground, and measuring the amount of hydrogen in the soil by observing how the neutrons are scattered, and hydrogen on Mars is an indicator of water.


1. The Hindu, 24th August 2012.

1 comment:

  1. And I read somewhere that it will travel to the base of Mount Sharp(correct me,if I'm wrong).