The US space agency is planning to drive the Curiosity Rover in the direction of water sites on the Martian surface to additional examine the lengthy, seasonally altering darkish streaks briny water within the hope of discovering proof of life.
“It isn’t so simple as driving a rover to a potential site and taking a scoop of soil,” stated Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science.
“Not only are these on steep slopes, we have to be sure that planetary safety considerations are met. In different phrases, how can we seek for proof of life with out contaminating the sites with bugs from Earth?,” he added in a NASA statement.
After approval of mission extension, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover would proceed to climb to higher and younger strata on Mount Sharp — mountain in Gale crater — to research how the ancient, water-rich environments discovered until now endured because the red planet dried out.
A stroll on these locations would assist the one-tonne rover nearer to places where darkish streaks are present on slopes and permit it to seize pictures of the potential water sites from miles away and see if any are the seasonally changing sort.
NASA’s High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has noticed many options of curiosity. They seem as darkish strains that seem to ebb and circulation over time.
“Planetary scientists think these gullies or recurring slope lineae (RSLs) might seem seasonally as a type of briny water at or close to the floor of the Red Planet below hotter conditions,” NASA mentioned.
NASA can be frightened about how close might the rover safely get to an RSL?
“By way of coming a lot nearer, we have to perceive properly in advance the potential for Earth organisms to come off the rover and that may inform us how distant the rover ought to keep,” stated Catharine Conley, NASA’s planetary safety officer.
The darkish streaks are considered “special regions” on Mars, the place further precautions should be taken to prevent contamination due to the suspected presence of liquid water, thought-about a prerequisite for life.