NASA has revealed the findings from the Curiosity rover on Mars.
The team at NASA have kept their lips tightly shut surrounding the announcement, leading to excitement and speculation as to what they were planning to reveal at the press conference on Thursday, June 7.
They did confirm, however, the talk would feature ‘new science results from NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover’ according to the Daily Mail.
At a press conference today, Thursday June 7, NASA said they have found ‘organic matter’, The Independent reports.
Scientists reported that NASA’s Curiosity rover has found the best evidence so far of potential life in an ancient Martian lakebed.
The organic molecules preserved in 3.5 billion-year-old bedrock in Gale Crater — believed to once contain a shallow lake the size of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee — suggest conditions back then may have been conducive to life. That leaves open the possibility that microorganisms once populated the planet, and still might.
Curiosity’s project scientist, Ashwin Vasavada of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said:
The chances of being able to find signs of ancient life with future missions, if life ever was present, just went up.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, said:
With these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and keep searching for evidence of life.
I’m confident that our ongoing and planned missions will unlock even more breathtaking discoveries on the Red Planet.
The Curiosity rover was sent to Mars back in November 2011 to study climate and geology, as well as exploring the planet’s potential to sustain life or liquid water.
“NASA represents what is best about the United States of America. We lead, we discover, we pioneer and we inspire,” says Jim Bridenstine, our newly sworn-in administrator. Earlier today, Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) swore in Bridenstine as our 13th administrator who will oversee our ongoing mission of exploration and discovery. During the ceremony, Bridenstine had an opportunity to talk to three of our out-of-this-world employees living and working on the International Space Station (@ISS). A pilot in the U.S. Navy Reserve and former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium, Bridenstine served on the House Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee. Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls #nasa #space #administrator #government #swearingin #ceremony #picoftheday #pictureoftheday #spaceagency #leader #leadership #vicepresident #vpotus
The mission was originally intended to only be for two years but, due to its success, Curiosity’s mission has been extended indefinitely.
The rover has now been on the red planet for more than 2,000 days, sending back thousands of images during its mission.
As with almost every announcement from NASA, eager enthusiasts wait patiently for the revelation they’ve found an alien life form.
Exploration is a tradition at NASA. As we work to reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind, our acting Administrator shared plans for the future during the #StateOfNASA address today, February 12, 2018 which highlights the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Proposal. Acting Administrator Lightfoot says “This budget focuses NASA on its core exploration mission and reinforces the many ways that we return value to the U.S. through knowledge and discoveries, strengthening our economy and security, deepening partnerships with other nations, providing solutions to tough problems, and inspiring the next generation. It places NASA and the U.S. once again at the forefront of leading a global effort to advance humanity’s future in space, and draws on our nation’s great industrial base and capacity for innovation and exploration.” Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot is seen here during delivery of today's State of NASA address at our Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls #stateofnasa #NASA #space #exploration #spaceexploration #lightfoot
The press conference was hosted by Michelle Thaller, assistant director of science for communications in Nasa’s Planetary Science Division, and the key speaker was Ashwin Vasavada, project scientist at Nasa’s Mars Science Laboratory.
Back in October 2016, the rover was supposed to send samples of Mars’ surface back to Earth, but plans had to be abandoned after mechanical issues caused a fault with the drill.
Engineers, however, managed to work out a new technique to restore the explorer’s drilling ability, using its robotic arm to push the drill bit forward as it spins.
After working for almost a year with an exact duplicate of the Curiosity rover on Earth, the new drilling method was successfully used on Mars on May 20.
NASA streamed the press conference live, where viewers were able to send in questions for the panel.
NASA plans to replace Curiosity in 2020 with a new rover, which will collect Martian soil in pen-sized canisters, which will then be sent back to Earth to be analysed.
Earth or Mars? Although it could be mistaken for a desert on Earth, layers seen in this image are evidence of erosion on the Red Planet. This erosion has even produced several small mesas & a prominent channel that cuts through this region of the planet: The map is projected here at a scale of 25 centimeters (9.8 inches) per pixel. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona #nasa #space #mars #planet #solarsystem #science #marsorbiter #desert #earth #mesas #channel
But how does a rover send capsules of soil back to earth?
Well, the new rover will have a lander, which houses a small called called the Mars Ascent Vehicle. This will launch the small containers into Mars’ orbit, where they will be collected by another craft launched from Earth.
Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, said:
Previous Mars missions revealed ancient streambeds and the right chemistry that could have supported microbial life on the red planet.
A sample would provide a critical leap forward in our understanding of Mars’ potential to harbour life.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.