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Everything but Martians

Everything but Martians

Credit: NASA
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mars_Science_Laboratory_Curiosity_rover.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Mars doesn’t look like such a great place to hang out now, but scientists have discovered that the planet was habitable in the past and for longer periods of time than they’d ever thought.

Amazing But True!

Credit: NASA
Source: mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/timeline/prelaunch/landingsiteselection/galecrater2/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Gale crater on Mars [Figure2]

  • The Curiosity Rover is a nuclear powered laboratory the size of a small car that roves around Mars. It is also called the Mars Science Laboratory.
  • Curiosity can examine rocks, drill into a rock for a small sample, scoop up soil, sieve the sample, and deliver the powder to instruments for chemical analysis.
  • Curiosity also has a mast that rises high above the rover that has a camera and a chemical analyzer that uses laser to vaporize the rocks and determine their chemical composition.

Explore More

With the link below, learn more about the big Martian Lake. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is an alluvial fan and why was it important that one was found on Mars?
  2. What type of rock was drilled in Yellowknife Bay and how did it form?
  3. Given what Curiosity has learned, what was Gale Crater? What were its characteristics?
  4. Where does a chemolithautotroph get its nutrition? What do all the parts of that word mean?
  5. What are extremophiles? Where do they live on Earth?
  6. What is the next step for Mars exploration?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: NASA; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mars_Science_Laboratory_Curiosity_rover.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: NASA; Source: mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/timeline/prelaunch/landingsiteselection/galecrater2/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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