by Dr. Ken Kremer
NASA’s Curiosity rover successfully bored inside ancient rocks on Mars for only the 2nd time since landing in August 2012 inside Gale Crater in search of the ingredients of life. On May 20 (Sol 279), the rover drilled about 2.6 inches deep into a target named “Cumberland” to collect powdery samples from the rock’s interior that hold the secrets to the history of water and habitability on the Red Planet. Chemical analysis is now in progress.
The six wheeled robot arrived at Cumberland on May 14 (Sol 274) after driving nine feet from the 1st drill target named “John Klein” where Curiosity bored the historic first drill hole on an alien world three months ago.
Analysis of the gray colored powdery “John Klein” sample by Curiosity’s pair of onboard chemistry labs – SAM & Chemin – revealed that this location on Mars was habitable in the past and possesses the key chemical ingredients required to support microbial life forms- thereby successfully accomplishing the key science objective of the mission and making a historic discovery. The science team drilled into ‘Cumberland’ to determine if it possesses the same ingredients found at “John Klein”.
“We’ll drill another hole [at Cumberland] to confirm what we found in the John Klein hole,” said John Grotzinger in an interview with me for Universe Today. Grotzinger, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, leads the Curiosity mission. “After finishing at Cumberland we’re likely to begin the trek to Mt. Sharp.”
‘Cumberland’ and ‘John Klein’ are patches of flat-lying bedrock shot through with pale colored hydrated mineral veins composed of calcium sulfate. Both spots are inside the ‘Yellowknife Bay’ basin that resembles a dried out lake bed.
And don’t forget to “Send Your Name to Mars” aboard NASA’s MAVEN orbiter-details here and at my AAAP short talk on Jun 11 – Deadline: July 1, 2013
Read more about Curiosity, Opportunity, Triple Conjunction at my Universe Today articles here:
Opportunity Discovers Clays Favorable to Martian Biology and Sets Sail for Motherlode of New Clues
Curiosity Drills 2nd Hole into Ancient Mars Rocks Searching for the Ingredients of Life
Rare Spectacular Triple Planet Conjunction Wows World! – Astrophoto Gallery
Astronomy Outreach by Dr. Ken Kremer
Please contact Ken for more info or science outreach presentations:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.kenkremer.com