As part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, Curiosity was the largest and highest-capacity vehicle ever shipped. It was launched on November 26, 2011 and landed on the red planet on August 6, 2012, exactly seven years ago. Since then it has traveled a total of 21 kilometers over the surface of the red planet and ascended 368 meters to its current location. The main goal is to know if this planet ever had the right environmental conditions to withstand some form of life and also prepare for human exploration. What is known so far
The Curiosity’s large size allows you to carry an advanced kit of ten scientific instruments and has an arm approximately two meters long that you use to place tools near your study objects. It has 17 cameras, a laser to vaporize and study small rock spots from a distance, and a drill to collect samples of powdered rock. It also takes soil and air samples. Here, some of the things that were found: Evidence of liquid water in the past: When Curiosity arrived on Mount Sharp it discovered rocks originally formed as mud at the bottom of a series of shallow lakes. Rivers and lakes persisted in Gale Crater for perhaps a million years or more.
A suitable place for life: key life-needed components such as sulfide, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and coal were found. In addition, the presence of clay minerals and little salt suggest that fresh water might ever have fluid there.
Organic carbon in rocks: carbon can occur in two forms, organic (present in all forms of life) and inorganic (such as carbon dioxide). In its organic form it was found in several samples of Mount Sharp. This does not necessarily mean that there is past or recent life, but that the molecules fundamental to the beginning of it were once present.
Methane in the atmosphere: not only was atmospheric methane found but a large increase in abundance was detected over a two-month period, which can be due to the presence of a living organism or by chemical reactions between rocks and water For example.
Radiation levels that are risky to humans: Curiosity’s radiation detector found forms of radiation that pose potential risks to astronauts. NASA will use this information to design safe missions for human explorers.
Last June, Curiosity took a 360-degree photo of a place called “Teal Ridge” and more recently, took detailed images of “Strathdon,” a rock made of dozens of layers of sediment that have hardened into a fragile, wavy cluster. Both Teal Ridge and Strathdon represent changes in the landscape. “We are seeing an evolution in the ancient lake environment recorded on these rocks,” said Valerie Fox, co-director of Curiosity’s “clay-bearing unit,” one of several campaigns studying different geological units. “It wasn’t just a static lake. It’s helping us get from a simplistic view of Mars going from wet to dry. Instead of a linear process, the history of water was more complicated.” Miguel San Martín: the Argentine co-inventor of the SkyCrane system
Miguel San Martín is an electronic engineer and researcher at NASA who participated in the design of the SkyCrane, a kind of crane that would help Curiosity pose directly on its wheels ready to begin its mission. In addition to being a novel system, it could be controlled with precision and low risk.
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