Mars Gets Curious


These are the first two full-resolution images of the Martian surface from the Navigation cameras on NASA’s Curiosity rover, which are located on the rover’s “head” or mast. The rim of Gale Crater can be seen in the distance beyond the pebbly ground. The topography of the rim is very mountainous due to erosion. The ground seen in the middle shows low-relief scarps and plains. The foreground shows two distinct zones of excavation likely carved out by blasts from the rover’s descent stage thrusters.

Molly Swain, Elizabeth Chenok, Staff Writer

On Aug. 5, the much anticipated Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars. The Curiosity’s team plans to take the one ton rover on a six mile trek up a martian mountain called Glenelg, moving a couple of feet each day. As amazing as this is, people are surely wondering: is the $2.5 billion rover really worth it?

The answer is yes. The Curiosity is expected to explore Mars for about 23 months to discover if the planet ever had environmental conditions where life could thrive. Our childhood fantasies of discovering what really happens on Mars are coming true. Aliens, rovers and craters-oh my!

As exciting as all this “life on Mars” stuff can be, we must also consider the financial consequences. Can the US afford this? $2.5 billion is a significant amount in this current recession. However, as the rover meets and exceeds expectations each day, all seems to go according to plan, giving hope that this dream might just work out to be a true success.

This expedition is making leaps into space exploration. This is the first time that a spacecraft has landed on Mars, and been able to report information back to Earth successfully, The only other country to land on Mars was Russia, whose craft stopped working after just a few hours. Now, that orangey Martian dirt is within reach, thanks to the Curiosity.

Retrieving rock samples and providing NASA workers with detailed 3-D images are just two of the Curiosity’s outstanding features. Studying these samples could give clues to the much anticipated answer to the question: Was there, or could there ever be, life on Mars?

The Curiosity may also provide information about possibilities for the future of Earth, and inspire a new generation of scientists by uncovering resources that we could benefit from on our planet. Human space travel to Mars could be promising in the future. If life is found on Mars, it can give scientists an idea of what to expect for Earth.

The Curiosity stirs excitement and is making leaps in space research for the future. Scientists will be working as hard as they can to discover all there is about extraterrestrial life on Mars.

In the race to space, the US has been one of the main trail blazers, especially when it comes to planetary research. The Curiosity is about a month into its two-year mission, and has had a positive outcome, as there have been no problems with the rover to date.

Currently, the Curiosity is preparing to use its arm equipped with tools for research. If the arm works, it will gather more detailed information about the chemicals in Mars’ famous red rock. The arm will be able to detect similarities between Earth and Mars. Scientists are especially looking for any form of water molecules.

As the Curiosity approaches its one month mark on the Red Planet, the hard work and money spent seems to be paying off.