Nasa's Curiosity rover 'sniffs' Martian air for the first time
The robot sucked the air into its big Sample Analysis at Mars (Sam) instrument to reveal the concentration of different gases.
It is the first time that the chemistry of the atmosphere has been tested from the surface of the planet since the Viking landers in the 1970s.
The Sam analysis is ongoing but no major surprises are expected at this stage - carbon dioxide will dominate.
CO2 is the chief component of the Martian air, as the Viking probes found. Of keener interest will be whether a signal for methane has been detected by Curiosity.
The gas has recently been observed by satellite and by Earth telescopes, and its presence on the Red Planet is intriguing.
Methane should be short-lived and its persistence suggests a replenishing source of some kind - either biological or geochemical. It is hoped Sam can shed light on the issue.
The results from this first test could be announced next week, said Curiosity deputy principal scientist Joy Crisp, but she cautioned that it would be some time before definitive statements could be made about the status of methane on Mars.
Sources and more information:
Curiosity rover 'sniffs' Martian air to measure its composition Last Updated: Friday, September 07, 2012, 14:37 London: NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has sucked Martian air into its big Sample Analysis at Mars (Sam) instrument to reveal the concentration of different gases. This is the first time that the chemistry of the atmosphere has been tested...
NASA's newest rover has been checking out the sights on the Red Planet -- and they are indeed sights to behold. September 8, 2012 8:55 AM PDT (Credit: NASA JPL-Caltech) NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has driven some 357 feet from its landing site on the floor of Gale Crater -- 269 feet as a martian crow might fly -- on its way to an intriguing area...
( via bbc.co.uk )
No comments yet.