Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Curiosity - robot on Mars

NASA has successfully landed a third robotic rover on Mars, Curiosity, to accompany its sisters Spirit and Opportunity. Equipped with a HD camera, it is sending us beautiful colour imagery of the surface of Mars. Its task is to sample the geology and look for evidence of microbial life on the red planet.
Already, images transmitted back reveal an environment that wouldn’t look out of place in any geologist’s dream. Death Valley-like rifts, dune fields, and cratered landscapes all form part of the Martian surface, each feature with a unique geological history to unravel. Scientists have been able to determine that Mars is in a primitive stage of plate tectonics by looking at high-resolution images of Mars’ geomorphology and fault systems. Valles Marineris, a 2,500 mile long gash in Mars’ surface may actually be a horizontally-moving fault separating two huge tectonic plates. As Curiosity continues its mission, more about the geology of Mars may be uncovered, and may help us to understand the geological history of life on our own planet. You can read more about Curiosity’s crater-hopping adventures on the Geological Society’s blog

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