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- IODP Expedition
- Curiosity at Mars
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Curiosity at Mars
12 September 2012
Pete Grindrod takes part in The Sky at Night program, joining the discussion about the Curiosity rover and its mission on Mars. Watch: BBC Four's The Sky at Night.
Still in the early commissioning phases of the surface mission, Curiosity is going through a series of checks to make sure that all systems are working perfectly. One of these test involves operating the arm for the first time in martian gravity. The arm can not only analyse rocks up close with a magnifying imager and X-ray spectrometer, but also scoop or drill samples to be brought back into the body of the rover for even more detailed analysis. Then it's a relatively short 400 metre drive to the first science target, Glenelg, a possible triple junction of different geological units. Although Mars is essentially a basaltic planet, there is evidence for significant alteration by water in the past. The mission is designed to last one martian year – almost two Earth years – and in that time will drive towards and up a 5 km high stack of sediments that contain both phyllosilicate and sulfate minerals. These layers will hopefully tell the story of different environments in Mars' past.