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Mars Landing 2012

8 Aug

Was Mars Ever Habitable? Curiosity's SAM Instrument Seeks the Answer

Click here for more NASA Curiosity Photos!After its amazing landing, which felt like it was straight out of a science fiction novel, NASA’s Curiosity rover is now safely on Mars and already at work. “Curiosity was designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet's ‘habitability.’”[1] To do this, Curiosity is equipped with an on-board laboratory that includes instruments ranging from spectrometers and radiation detectors to environmental and atmospheric sensors. Here’s what I learned from my visit to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center last week:

Gale Crater, Curiosity’s landing site, is the ideal place to search for evidence of organic compounds on Mars, many of which are the chemical building blocks of life on Earth. Similar to the Grand Canyon (though three times as high!), Gale Crater has exposed layers of rock that NASA hopes will reveal if there ever was life on Mars. Starting at the base of the crater, where the oldest sediments from the planet’s early years can be found, Curiosity will begin roving the area, performing experiments on the crater’s rock layers with its on-board lab.

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5 Aug

Get Ready for Mars Landing TONIGHT: Live Video and Top 3 Links

NASA Curiosity Rover at Work on MarsPrepare yourselves fellow space enthusiasts. The long-awaited Mars landing of NASA's Curiosity rover is upon us! The latest projections put the exact time of touchdown at 10:30pm PST tonight — 1:31am for folks on the East coast.

As (we hope) most of you already know from our Associate Producer Lindsey's post earlier this week, SCIENCE will be airing a spectacular recap of the mission and its results the day after the landing. Don't forget to tune in for Mars Landing 2012 at 10PM e/p on Monday night.

For those who want to watch history in the making tonight, NASA is making live video of the entire touch down available live on their NASA TV site. The real time coverage starts tonight at 8:30pm PST / 11:30pm EST.

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2 Aug

Producer's Take: Mars Landing 2012

NASA's Curiosity RoverAs NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory prepares for and executes one of the most complex Mars missions ever, SCIENCE is excited to bring you coverage of this prolific event on Monday, August 6th @ 10:00pm e/p.

If all goes according to plan — and that's a BIG if — scientists aim to discover whether or not Mars has, or ever had, the chemical building blocks to support life. In case you can't tell by a large portion of our programming dedicated to space, we geek out over this kind of stuff! 

Using a combination of field reporting, hosted interviews and informed news updates, Mars Landing 2012 will focus exclusively on the science and technology involved in bringing this mission to life. The show will feature scientists, technicians and big picture thinkers — those who have dedicated their careers and passion to this project.

Our hosts will be on location at the Jet Propulsion Lab in the hours after the Curiosity rover touches down on the surface of Mars. History will be made on August 6th, whether the landing mission is successful or not, and SCIENCE will be there with a full crew to provide coverage.

Check out this sneak peek of Mars Landing 2012. And don't forget to watch on Monday at 10PM e/p!

 

 

 

30 Jul

Mars Landing: 7 Minutes of Terror

We're only a few days away from touch down for the Curiosity Mars rover this Sunday, August 5! And SCIENCE will be airing a special about the Mars landing, Mars Landing 2012: The New Search for Life, on Monday, August 6 at 10PM E/P. 

This latest mission to Mars is to search for any signs of life - past, present or future. The rover will begin the mission inside a huge impact basin called the Gale Crater, which could prove to be the remains of an ancient lake, and span out from there.

What most people don't realize is what an epic task it is just to land the rover on the surface of Mars without something going horrendously wrong. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories created this video to help people understand just how difficult the landing will be:

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