backtop


Print 62 comment(s) - last by Lazlo Panaflex.. on Dec 13 at 11:57 PM


A Mars rover  (Source: NASA)

The discovery made on the Red Planet  (Source: NASA)
The Mars rovers continue to impress

NASA this week announced its Mars Exploration Rover Spirit discovered a patch of land on Mars that revealed the possibility of a past environment able to sustain microbial life.

While exploring a scientifically important area of Mars last May, Spirit, while dragging a broken wheel on the surface, discovered a patch of "nearly pure silica" found the Home Plate section of Mars.  Scientists believe it came from a hot-spring or fumarole -- an environment which forces acidic steam to rise through cracks on the planet's surface, also stripping mineral components while leaving only silica behind.

Even though the rovers were not designed to evaluate possible signs of life, each discovery like this one provides pieces to a complicated puzzle on Mars.  Researchers hope to have the opportunity to study this specific location on Home Plate when new missions are launched to the Red Planet.  The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), scheduled to launch in September 2009, will be NASA's first chance to head back to Home Plate.

"Whichever of those conditions produced it, this concentration of silica is probably the most significant discovery by Spirit for revealing a habitable niche that existed on Mars in the past," said Steve Squyres, principal investigator for data gathered by the rovers.

Spirit now has only two weeks to safely arrive at a sun-facing slope on Home Plate before strong dust storms paralyzes it for the winter.



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: A Testament to Good Engineering
By Adonlude on 12/12/2007 2:23:22 PM , Rating: 3
You're microwave manufacturer doesn't spend billions of tax payer dollars nor does it need big successes and surprises to justify its spending. NASA wasn't going to give us our money back if the rovers had failed in less than 90 days, nor would they have replaced them. Excellent analogy otherwise though.


"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Related Articles
Mars Rover Spirit Reaches 'Home Plate'
February 13, 2006, 1:15 AM













botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki