March 12, 2013 | 1:13 p.m.

Mars mission accomplished: Ingredients for life? Mars had ’em

Ancient Mars was so conducive to life that you might have been able to scoop up the water and drink it. So say NASA scientists, who are thrilled that Curiosity has solved this mystery: Could there have been life on Mars?  Yes. “A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment,” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, in a news release. “From what we know now, the answer is yes.” At a news conference in Washington on Tuesday, mission lead scientist John Grotzinger said signs pointed to an ancient environment “so benign” and “so supportive of life that probably if this water was around and you had been on the planet, you would have been able to drink it.” Curiosity tweeted: I was sent to Mars to find evidence of […]
Feb. 20, 2013 | 1:52 p.m.

Curiosity’s sample scoop: Scientists, feel free to high-five

The Mars rover Curiosity drilled into the surface of Mars for the first time, and now proud scientists have sent out a photo of Curiosity’s big scoop. Adding to a mission chock full of firsts, this is the first time a rover has ever drilled into an alien rock and collected a sample. Seeing is believing, Scott McCloskey of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada-Flintridge, Calif., said in a news release Wednesday, and “seeing the powder from the drill in the scoop” is proof the sample-gathering was a resounding success. “Many of us have been working toward this day for years,” McCloskey said. The point of the mission is to search for signs of water and conditions that could have once supported life on the Red Planet.  And it seems to have been one high-five after another since the […]
Feb. 09, 2013 | 11:04 a.m.

A Mars first! Curiosity drills into bedrock

For the first time, a robot has drilled into a rock on Mars and collected a sample, and scientists are patting themselves on the back.  The likelihood of high-fives also is extremely high. The Curiosity rover has extended its robotic arm and used the drill carried there to bore a hole 0.63 inches wide and 2.5 inches deep into John Klein, as the Martian rock was dubbed. Within that hole, scientists believe, is evidence of the wet environments that existed on Mars eons ago. But the successful use of the drill alone has scientists in a tizzy. This means that Curiosity is “a fully operating analytical laboratory on Mars,” said John Grunsfeld, with NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, in a news release. “This is the biggest milestone accomplishment for the Curiosity team since the sky-crane landing last August,” he said. Twitter […]
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