There are now only a few more days before
Curiosity will land on the Red Planet and as we await this moment,
we explore what role chemistry plays on Mars and what we expect from the rover.
The newest episode of the American Chemical Society's (ACS') award-winning Bytesize Science video series highlights Curiosity Rover's mission, scientific
instrumentation and the role that chemistry plays in the search for life on other planets.
It features Mars Science Laboratory Deputy Science Manager Ashwin Vasavada, Ph.D., of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of
Technology in Pasadena.
Vasavada takes viewers "under the hood" of the rover, explaining the role of the analytical chemistry instruments found onboard the Curiosity.
The use of analytical chemistry techniques will aid in Curiosity's primary mission goal: to determine the habitability of the Gale Crater, which scientists
believe was once filled with water.
"Curiosity is really a geochemical experiment that we are sending to Mars.
A whole laboratory of chemical equipment is on this rover, primarily because the way we going to assess habitability with this rover is to drill into
rocks and analyze material from these rocks in very sophisticated analytical chemical instruments, Ashwin Vasavada explains.
Gale crater on Mars. Image credit: NASA
The video explains several chemical processes that Curiosity is equipped to perform, including laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, mineralogy tests and
Test results from these instruments will pave the way for future Mars missions and may provide insight in the search for life on other planets.
After an epic 354-million-mile trek through space, the Mars Curiosity Rover is zooming along at 13,000 miles per hour. It is bound for arrival on Mars the evening of Aug. 5, 2012, PDT (early Aug. 6, EDT and Universal Time).
There will be many ways to watch NASA's live coverage of the Mars landing of Curiosity. Coverage will be on the web at both NASA's and JPL web sites.
Shockwaves Could Crinkle Space-Time Creating A New Kind Of Singularity
Mathematicians have discovered a new way to crinkle up the fabric of space-time, at least in theory.
"We show that space-time cannot be locally flat at a point where two shock waves collide," said Blake Temple, professor of mathematics at UC Davis.
"This is a new kind of singularity in general relativity."
Gullies On Mars Formed By Water
A new study reveals that parts of Mars may have been modified by liquid water in recent geologic times, which might indicate more
favourable conditions for life on the planet.
The surface of Mars displays a diverse landscape, and a new study shows that large areas of the northern hemisphere have undergone
a number of freeze-thaw cycles.