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Published:January 20th, 2013 16:35 EST
NASA Begins Drilling Martian Crater in Search for Water

NASA Begins Drilling Martian Crater in Search for Water

By Ron G Anselm

"Water to us on this planet is God`s natural juice and is as much a necessity for sustaining life as the air we breathe but does this statement hold the same truth for those little green men that inhibit the mysteries of Mars?" (Anselm, R.)

Does water or has water really existed on the Red Planet? NASA is exploring the ends of Mars to find out and is using the Curiosity Rover to be the main source for answering this question. When we hear of Mars it sort stirs up the curiosity that is in each and every one of us. NASA`s Rover which has been exploring Mars for about five months now is currently in route to a flat rock inside the area known as Gale Crater to start the first stages of drilling into the rock to try to find out if water does really exist or has existed ever on Mars. The rock is the perfect specimen to start this ongoing investigation because the chosen rock has pale veins and is sitting in an area that looks like it may have once held the environment that is favorable for microbial life. Microbial life flourishes in wet environments.

The rock once the Curiosity Rover reaches it will have to first meet the NASA Engineers approval to start the drilling and if the rock does meet those specified standards of NASA it will be the first rock to be drilled since Curiosity landed on Mars. It looks like NASA is getting into the main objective and meat of this mission which is all about finding water.

We wonder why NASA is so adamant on finding out if water was ever on the Rd Planet and it makes you think of many reasons as to why NASA is spending a lot of time investigating. In my opinion I believe that scientists are trying to find another planet that humans could survive on if we ever have to. 

I mean; think about it, with the onset of global warming that is frying our planet like a scrambled egg on the sidewalk in some Arizona town in the middle of July and with more holes punched in our protective ozone layer than a dart board has in some English Pub from the effects of greenhouse gases. I guess if you put two and two together common sense will tell you yea, we better start looking for Earth Two.

You also ask why Mars could be the chosen next planet we relocate to? Well, think about it. Mars is close, has a lot of the same characteristics has our current planet does and heck we could all make friends with Martians where we could all sit around on the weekend and trade flying saucer stores with one another while sparking up the Bar-B-Que.

As far as the drilling process goes and NASA`s plan for managing it, Richard Cook of NASA`s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California stated, "Drilling into a rock to collect a sample will be this mission`s most challenging activity since the landing. It has never been done on Mars. The drill hardware interacts energetically with Martian material we don`t control. We won`t be surprised if some steps in the process don`t go exactly as planned the first time through." (Cook, R.)

Isn`t that the truth? Most things especially a project of this caliber normally hits lots of road blocks the first time until it is practiced and perfected over and over again. As Murphy`s Law says, "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." (Murphy`s Law, somewhere in some book somewhere out there on some shelf or in some Library on the shelf)" The project will go somewhat like this:

Curiosity will first gather powdered samples from the rock it will drill and use those powdered samples to first scrub the drill. This will basically sort of sterilize the drill with one-hundred percent of the samples that NASA wants to study and get rid of any other foreign material that may exist on the drill. This will provide a perfect and accurate sample of the rock. After this first drill of the rock, Curiosity will continue to drill and ingest more samples to analyze. This will provide data about the mineral and chemical composition of the rock. This rock being drilled is like the red headed step child compared to the other surrounding rocks because:

Of the other various and different characteristics about the chosen rock to be drilled which include veins, nodules, cross-bedded layering, a lustrous pebble embedded in sandstone, and possibly some holes in the ground. The rock chosen for drilling is called "John Klein" in tribute to former Mars Science Laboratory deputy project manager John W. Klein, who died in 2011. (nasa.com)

Richard Cook went on to provide more insight on the tribute to John Klein by saying, "John`s leadership skill played a crucial role in making Curiosity a reality." (Cook, R.) The Curiosity Rover mission has so far proven to be a big asset on the study of Mars and should prove to be even a larger piece of the pie when more data is found and possible the information that water does or once did exist on Mars.

So, as Curiosity slowly moves in route to the flat lying rock it is about to drill into scientists continue to comb the area where the target rock is lying for more clues about the possible existence of water. They have so far found out that the target area the rock is in is called  "Yellowknife Bay and has a stream bed about five-hundred meters to the West of it which makes it the perfect site for starting the drilling process. Scientists have also discovered about this area is that fractured ground that cools more slowly each night than nearby terrain types do which is another indicator for the possible existence of water that may have once existed there or possible does exist there.

John Grotzinger, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California commented on this by saying, "The orbital signal drew us here, but what we found when we arrived has been a great surprise. This area had a different type of wet environment than the streambed where we landed, maybe a few different types of wet environments." (Grotzinger, J.)

This area will give scientists a variety of options to explore for the drill project. With various wet environments surrounding the area will open the door to explore the other environments that may hold that one little secret that Mars may not want to reveal to us but scientists will push to find out and that is, yes, water does exist on Mars.

Scientists have discovered that the target rock to be drilled has within the veins that run through it light-toned veins which also revealed elevated levels of calcium, hydrogen, and sulfur which are all ingredients for the existence of water or wet material.

ChemCam team member Nicolas Mangold of the Laboratoire de Planetologie et Geodynamique de Nantes in France commented on this by saying, "These veins are likely composed of hydrated calcium sulfate, such as bassinite or gypsum. On Earth, forming veins like these requires water circulating in fractures." (Mangold, N.)

Does water or has water ever existed on Mars? And could Mars one day if water does exist turn out to be the next planet we relocate to? As water is as essential to us here on Earth as the air we breathe or as much as we need God in our life and his natural juice which is water only Mars knows the answer to this question that scientists are so desperately using the Curiosity Rover to find out and provide the necessary answers as the mystery continues.

                                                               Reference

NASA MARS ROVER PREPARING TO DRILL INTO FIRST MARTIAN ROCK (http://www.nasa.gov/msl)

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