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Published:October 14th, 2012 21:24 EST
NASA's Mars Rover Makes Exciting New Discovery on The Red Planet

NASA's Mars Rover Makes Exciting New Discovery on The Red Planet

By Ron G Anselm

 

If you look at the mission that NASA`s Curiosity Rover is on it is almost like the same principle that Forrest Gump said in his famous line in the movie Forrest Gump, "Life`s like a box of chocolates," you never know what you are going to get.  (Hanks, T. famous line from the movie Forrest Gump). As Rover prowls the surface of the red planet it comes across many mysteries that only science can answer but these mysteries are why Rover is up on Mars in the first place, to find out everything it can about Mars and what may have once existed many, many years ago.

The Curiosity Rover hit the jack pot recently when it came across one of the rocks lying on the surface of Mars that is made up of a more varied composition than previous rocks found on past mission on Mars and the composition the rock is made up of has a lot of the same characteristics as rocks found on Earth interior where lots of volcanic activity takes place.

So, if this rock found on Mars has a lot of the same characteristics as rocks that are embedded in the Earth`s core may offer the start of many clues that maybe Mars once did support life and maybe the red planet could be habitable if more research in the future proves this possible theory.

I guess if you look at all the negative environmental factors that are currently happening with our planet (global warming, etc.) scientists are looking for another place to possibly call home if we ever have to evacuate our planet due to our own destructive ways. The damage we have caused to our environment is irreversible so yes, I guess that only leaves the option to find another planet we could be able to call home if we ever have to. You and I won`t ever have to worry about relocating to another habitable planet but our kids, their kids our grand kids, etc. may have to one day. So, scientists continue their trek towards discovering a place we humans can call Earth two (so to speak). With all this going on NASA`s Curiosity Rover could turn out to be the super hero and hit the bull`s eyes with all the future research it will be doing while on Mars.

The rock that Curiosity recently discovered is named "Jake Matijevic" and is about the size of a football. The data collected about this rock is vitally important to scientists because the composition or make up of rocks tell a tale of past and present unseen environments and planetary processes. The chemical composition in rocks that scientists study is as vitally important to finding out clues about environments as gas is to your car in making it run. Edward Stolper of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California who is a Curiosity co-investigator commented on this by saying, "This rock is a close match in chemical composition to an unusual but well-known type of igneous rock found in many volcanic provinces on Earth. With only one Martian rock of this type, it is difficult to know whether the same processes were involved, but it is a reasonable place to start thinking about its origin." (Stolper, E.).

This rock found by Curiosity is as important to scientist as a winning lottery ticket is to a family living in poverty. The rock found is a new start for scientist to hopefully be able to discover important information about Mars they have been looking for and a winning lottery ticket would be a new start for that poverty stricken family. So, we can see how important this rock found is to scientists and the rock will hopefully prove to be the winning lottery ticket for scientists that provide many clues and valuable information about the surface of the red planet.

The chemical composition of the Martian rock may also unwrap the answer the question that scientist have been baffled about finding the answer to for many years and are still trying to find and that is the question of, Did or does water exist on Mars? The reason is this rock found resembles the type of rock found in Earth`s mantle beneath the crust and formed from crystallization of relatively water-rich magma at elevated pressure. Of course with lava you have unbelievably high temperatures and with pressurization you have crystallization with the addition of some type of water source which is the same scenario as boiling a pot of spaghetti and putting a lid on the pot only the temperature on your stove`s burner is not nearly as high as the temperature is in the Earth`s core (unless you have some sort of stove you bought on sale at Home Depot or Lowes with capabilities of super-heated burners which I doubt) you have the addition of high heat, pressurization, and in the case of temperatures within the Earth`s core is so hot it will cause crystallization bit in the case with boiling a pot of spaghetti on a standard stove the temperature of the water will reach 212 degrees Fahrenheit (the boiling point of water) and then turn from a liquid (the water) to a gas (the steam that burns your face when you look into the pot of boiling water) so to link both examples together as they would relate to one another, the boiling waters chemical process changes at the point of reaching 212 degrees Fahrenheit when it turns from a liquid to a gas, the crystallization point of rocks in the core of the Earth takes place as the temperatures again reaches a certain point (probably thousands of degrees) when the solid of the rock change at the melting point (crystallization).

Curiosity has many high-tech instruments mounted on it to be able to examine anything it sees especially rocks and these high-tech instruments which consist of an arm-mounted Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) has given scientist the option to study the geology side of Mars as if it were a child playing in a sand box and scooping up sand with his or her plastic, colored toy shovel. Curiosity has scooped up thousands of pieces of gravel and rocks from the surface of Mars but this particular rock recently found remains the red-headed step child rock of all the ones recently studies by NASA.

Ralf Gellert of the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada added some insight on this by saying, "Jake is kind of an odd Martian rock (referring to the recently discovered rock named "Jake Matijevic") It`s high in elements consistent with the mineral feldspar and low in magnesium and iron." (Guelph, R.)

So, Curiosity is the same as an M1A1 Abrahams Tank going into battle. It is armed with lots of neat stuff. The Curiosity Rover has a Chem Cam (camera) it uses to study and take pictures of and lets scientists look at the rocks Rover is currently studying (in real-time) and Chem Cam shoots little laser impulses from the top of the mast on Rover to help break down rocks into sandy particles for further study. Also, Rover has a built-in an analytical laboratory inside which allows Rover to provide other composition information about powder samples from rocks and soil.

At this point of the Rover mission the main objective is to study the chemical composition of soil and sandy particles in the surrounding rocks on the surface of Mars. The Rover will then proceed about 100-yards in the area it is currently gathering this type of data from and then the plan is to have the Rover move about one-hundred yards eastward from its current position and use the built-in drill to start taking more additional samples of rocks. Scientist will then gather all the information and data found by Curiosity over the span of the mission and try to find out if the area studied was ever favorable for supporting microbial life.

So, the question becomes is Mars the next planet for us humans to be able to relocate to if it is found favorable for supporting life? Or, do we continue to hope our planet can somehow repair itself from all the destructive damage we have inflicted on our environment that is basically irreversible? Only NASA`s Curiosity Rover will be the source to answer this as it roams the streets of Mas trying to gather enough information to form the hypothesis that Mars is a habitable planet that someday may turn out to be our second Earth.

Reference

MARS ROCK TOUCHED BY NASA CURIOSITY ROVER OFFERS SURPRISES

(http://www.nasa.gov/msl) Retrieved 2012.

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