As Curiosity follows in man’s small footsteps, here comes another giant leap for mankind

Life on Mars? This question forms the mission of NASA’s newest intrepid explorer, Curiosity, after it successfully touched down on the surface of the Red Planet last Monday. Already providing experts at the NASA space station with several images of the Martian landscape, Curiosity, is set to head off into previously unchartered territory in search of signs of life, past or even present. Armed with the latest in space technology the vehicle has the ability to drill into the ground, sort, sieve and analyse samples, sending the data back to Earth to be examined further. Furthermore, scientists running the Curiosity mission believe that the collection of such samples is just the tip of the iceberg and that if the rest of the mission is met with similar success, we may stand to gain some of the most valuable and detailed data regarding former or current life on this planet that man has ever had.

The landing of Curiosity was apparently met with shouts of joy in the NASA space station, as proof was received that the vehicle has managed to land scot free on the planet’s surface. Weighing roughly a tonne, the craft was lowered onto Mars by parachute. This historic touch-down may even have been caught on camera, as scientists believe that one of the images transmitted back to the station showed the dust cloud raised by the vehicle as it hit the ground.

The next step is a technological ‘brain transplant’ for Curiosity, as scientists update its software so it is able to set off on its monumental trip into the Martian back-and-beyond. However, the craft will not blindly roll off wherever the wind (or its wheels) takes it, but is equipped with technology capable of spotting hazardous situations and allows it to set out along a safe route, provisionally mapped out by scientists back at NASA.

As this mechanical giant lopes off into the sunset, scientists can only speculate over what it will find. Geographical evidence in the form of dried up river channels certainly points to the previous existence of life on the planet, be this plant, animal or bacteria, however until more concrete and conclusive evidence can be collected (hopefully by Curiosity) the truth in this speculation will continue to remain elusive. All that is left to do is to wait with bated breath until Curiosity finds a reason to ‘phone home’…

News sources: BBC online, The Daily Mail online, The Guardian Online, NASA website

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One Response to As Curiosity follows in man’s small footsteps, here comes another giant leap for mankind

  1. […] NASA’s rover Curiosity landed on the Red Planet last August, scientist did not expect to find useful evidence regarding the habitability of Mars in the first […]

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