Curiosity on Mars

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Schrensky wrote:

I wish the rover would have used a mirror and an iPhone to take it's self portrait.

That could never happen, the rover is not configured to 'duck face'.

MeatMan wrote:
tuffalobuffalo wrote:
LouZiffer wrote:

*picture*

:D

+1

yip yip yip yip

yawp yawp yawp

m0nk3yboy wrote:
mudbunny wrote:

The rover does not have the tools to determine life.

I thought they said it was not an active directive of the mission, not that it couldn't detect it if it was found to be there? I could be wrong on that, I'm just going of my recollection of the Google live feed were it was being discussed, so that may be different to actual spec.

Would they be able to find traces of organic material in samples taken for instance? Unusually high percentages of X that could be left by process Y of a living organism, that sort of thing?

They can detect is something is organic* in origin, and that is it. It does not have the instrument capability to determine whether or not said compound is from a biological origin. That instrument is scheduled to land in 2018, and is supposed to be fired up by ESA, the European Space Agency.

Now, even should they find traces of organic compounds, it does not mean that they are from biological origins. The chemical reactions which for organic compounds are *incredibly* common and happen all over the place.

*Note, organic, in this case, means whether or not it has carbon and hydrogen (with some other atoms as well like sulfur, oxygen, nitrogen) arranged in a manner such that chemist call it an organic compound.

(Info from http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/ac...)

Awesome, thanks for the extra info Mudbunny.

Ok, as this is the active space thread, this is probably the best location, but holy $*@(#$:
http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astro...

New Data Show Mercury Almost Certainly Has Buried Ice at Its North Pole

Holy sh*t, indeed.

I think this is the most profound takeaway from this discovery:

The irony of finding water ice on such a hot planet is obvious, but also an indication that water is everywhere in our solar system, from close in to the Sun to the farthest reaches we can see, billions of kilometers out past Neptune. We know our kind of life is based on carbon and needs water. I don’t think we’ll find life on Mercury, but what this says to me is that the basic ingredients of life can survive formidable circumstances. And that makes me wonder even more if life can get a toehold (pseudopodhold?) in places where we might have earlier thought it impossible.

Just a heads up but the "plastic found on Mars" story making the Internet rounds today is a myth.

LockAndLoad wrote:

Just a heads up but the "plastic found on Mars" story making the Internet rounds today is a myth.

Well that's why you don't announce "we have a really big discovery" but then don't tell anyone for a couple weeks what the hell it is. People will run with fakes.

My favorite line from the Mercury Ice story was from under one of the photos.

Locations of ice at Mercury's north pole. Click to embiggen.
Stele wrote:
LockAndLoad wrote:

Just a heads up but the "plastic found on Mars" story making the Internet rounds today is a myth.

Well that's why you don't announce "we have a really big discovery" but then don't tell anyone for a couple weeks what the hell it is. People will run with fakes.

They found exclusive Justin Beiber Ugg boots on Mars.

Spoiler:

NASA needs money. Sponsorship opportunities ahoy!

Also, as this is the thread for space news, we are just 15 days away from the 50th anniversary of our species putting something in orbit around another planet. 50 years of inter-planetary exploration!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariner_2

I posted this in the video thread as well, but in case you don't follow that:

I find the dancing Dalek quite amusing.

I am also pleased that I get all the references.

So the big news is in.

Water and sulfur and chlorine-containing substances, among other ingredients, showed up in samples Curiosity's arm delivered to an analytical laboratory inside the rover.

...

CheMin's examination of Rocknest samples found the composition is about half common volcanic minerals and half non-crystalline materials such as glass. SAM added information about ingredients present in much lower concentrations and about ratios of isotopes. Isotopes are different forms of the same element and can provide clues about environmental changes. The water seen by SAM does not mean the drift was wet. Water molecules bound to grains of sand or dust are not unusual, but the quantity seen was higher than anticipated.

SAM tentatively identified the oxygen and chlorine compound perchlorate. This is a reactive chemical previously found in arctic Martian soil by NASA's Phoenix Lander. Reactions with other chemicals heated in SAM formed chlorinated methane compounds -- one-carbon organics that were detected by the instrument. The chlorine is of Martian origin, but it is possible the carbon may be of Earth origin, carried by Curiosity and detected by SAM's high sensitivity design.

One of my favourite comments was from the head of the Curiosity team in (I think) a BBC Horizon programme. They were working all the hours back then as Curiosity was well over it's predicted survival period but they still felt it could fail at any moment and wanted to glean as much data as possible. The guy leading the team in particular wasn't getting a lot of time off. The interviewer asked, "How much longer do you think Curiosity will last?" to which the guy smiled and said, "My wife keeps asking me the same question."

Someone joked that it's the Dukes of Hazard car jumping over something.

Curiosity Has Arrived At The Breathtaking Kimberley Waypoint

NASA's intrepid Curiosity rover has arrived at a scientifically enticing destination called "The Kimberley Waypoint," where researchers hope to carry out the next drilling operation into alien Martian terrain in search of further clues about ancient Red Planet environments that may have been favorable for life.

Who's that standing on the ridge to the left?

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