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Science from Curiosity Rover

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posted on Jul, 18 2013 @ 06:12 PM
I've just stumbled across this thread at the Unmanned Spaceflight forum, and thought it would be good to share it here, amid the usual threads about martian "anomalies" and NASA "lies" - MSL Scientific Results

The thread lists some scientific papers based on Curiosity's results. Here are some of the abstracts I found interesting:

Volume mixing and isotope ratios secured with repeated atmospheric measurements taken with the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument suite on the Curiosity rover are: carbon dioxide (CO2), 0.960(±0.007); argon-40 (40Ar), 0.0193(±0.0001); nitrogen (N2), 0.0189(±0.0003); oxygen, 1.45(±0.09) × 10−3; carbon monoxide, < 1.0 × 10−3; and 40Ar/36Ar, 1.9(±0.3) × 103. [...] The 40Ar/36Ar ratio is consistent with martian meteoritic values, which provides additional strong support for a martian origin of these rocks. [...] This heavy isotope enrichment in carbon supports the hypothesis of substantial atmospheric loss.

Stable isotope ratios of H, C, and O are powerful indicators of a wide variety of planetary geophysical processes, and for Mars they reveal the record of loss of its atmosphere and subsequent interactions with its surface such as carbonate formation. [...] Comparison between our measurements in the modern atmosphere and those of martian meteorites such as ALH 84001 implies that the martian reservoirs of CO2 and H2O were largely established ~4 billion years ago, but that atmospheric loss or surface interaction may be still ongoing.

And the one about the radiation dozes on a round trip to Mars

The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, containing the Curiosity rover, was launched to Mars on 26 November 2011, and for most of the 253-day, 560-million-kilometer cruise to Mars, the Radiation Assessment Detector made detailed measurements of the energetic particle radiation environment inside the spacecraft. These data provide insights into the radiation hazards that would be associated with a human mission to Mars. We report measurements of the radiation dose, dose equivalent, and linear energy transfer spectra. The dose equivalent for even the shortest round-trip with current propulsion systems and comparable shielding is found to be 0.66 ± 0.12 sievert.

For the record, 0.67 sievert was the highest dose received by a worker responding to the Fukushima emergency.
edit on 18-7-2013 by wildespace because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 18 2013 @ 07:05 PM
reply to post by wildespace

Looks like the team was rather busy during solar conjunction - I think that's when they had some spare time to draft their papers ...

The outlook doesn't look too optimistic with regards to present life on Mars (radiation, atmosphere etc.), but how knows - time will tell. At least they got some scientific backing now for the martian origin of the ALH 84001 meteorite and others they found on Earth - will have to do some more reading, though, and might get back to this thread later on.

Thanks for posting this along with the abstracts!


posted on Jul, 21 2013 @ 09:17 AM

How Mars' Atmosphere Got So Thin: Reports Detail Curiosity Clues to Atmosphere's Past

Studying isotopes of carbon-12, carbon-13, and oxygen has given evidence that Mars not only had a much thicker atmosphere than it has now, but also gives clues that a catastrophic event likely caused the loss.

Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite of laboratory instruments inside the rover has measured the abundances of different gases and different isotopes in several samples of Martian atmosphere.

Meteorite measurements indicate much of the atmospheric loss may have occurred during the first billion years of the planet's 4.6-billion-year history. The Curiosity measurements reported this week provide more precise measurements to compare with meteorite studies and with models of atmospheric loss.

This is related to the two papers I linked to above. Good questions to ask are: what caused that loss of atmosphere after just 1 billion years of the planet's existence, and could any life have ever formed in that time?

P.S. I find such things far more worthy of discussion than whether some martian rock looks like claws or a rat.

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