Why have we not taken this basic instrument to Mars? Sometimes the most obvious things somehow get lost when large complex missions are being planned and we can’t see the forest for the trees. The new Curiosity rover has not found life but did find some compounds related to life. The Mars Viking mission originally thought they had found life in the 1970s but the data was not conclusive. New analysis of the Viking data in 2012 shows a significant probability that indeed life was found. Why then has no mission ever taken a microscope to Mars? The Viking mission showed signs of microbial life as soon as a nutrient liquid was introduced to the mars soil. A microscope could have confirmed this. One of the most basic tools any scientist uses is a microscope and it is well past time we took one to Mars. [adrotate group="1"] We even came up with a name for it…Microscope On Mars or MOM (cute huh?). NASA has stated that they would like a Mars soil return mission. If they are serious about [...]
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Curiosity Rover’s Traverse, August through November 2012 Since landing at a site named “Bradbury Landing,” The rover has traveled 1,703 feet (519 meters) to an overlook position beside “Point Lake”. The rover landed on Aug. 5 Pacific Time (Aug. 6, Universal Time). It worked on scoops of soil for a few weeks at the drift of windblown sand called “Rocknest.” The place called “Glenelg” is where three types of terrain meet. The depression called “Yellowknife Bay” is a potential location for selecting the first target rock for Curiosity’s hammering drill. All of these sites are within Gale Crater and north of the mountain called Mount Sharp in the middle of the crater. After using its drill in the Glenelg area, the rover’s main science destination will be on the lower reaches of Mount Sharp. The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
(Source NASA) – The NASA Mars rover Curiosity this week is driving within a shallow depression called “Yellowknife Bay,” providing information to help researchers choose a rock to drill. Using Curiosity’s percussive drill to collect a sample from the interior of a rock, a feat never before attempted on Mars, is the mission’s priority for early 2013. After the powdered-rock sample is sieved and portioned by a sample-processing mechanism on the rover’s arm, it will be analyzed by instruments inside Curiosity. Yellowknife Bay is within a different type of terrain from what the rover has traversed since landing inside Mars’ Gale Crater on Aug. 5, PDT (Aug. 6, UTC). The terrain Curiosity has entered is one of three types that intersect at a location dubbed “Glenelg,” chosen as an interim destination about two weeks after the landing. Curiosity reached the lip of a 2-foot (half-meter) descent into Yellowknife Bay with a 46-foot (14-meter) drive on Dec. 11. The next day, a drive of about 86 feet (26.1 meters) brought the rover well inside the basin. [...]