Dec 15, 2016 10:30 AM EST
NASA News: Mars Was Once Habitable; Why NASA Won’t Send Science Gear In SpaceX Mars Mission?
NASA's Curiosity rover has uncovered evidence that supports the presence of water, a key ingredient that reveals Mars was once habitable. However, the space agency will not be sending any science equipment in the SpaceX Mars mission until a soft and successful landing in the red planet is achieved.
NASA's Curiosity rover has landed in Mars four years ago and it has been hard at work drilling and uncovering what information Martian rocks can tell. The rover landed on the Gale Crater and it has since covered nine miles as it now works its way up a mountain called Mount Sharp.
The farther the little bot gets, the more varied are the rocks and recent update kept scientists excited as rover came upon the element boron. This will be the first time that NASA's Curiosity rover discovered traces of boron, which is known to be water-soluble, an important evidence that tell-tales the presence of ancient water in Mars.
Boron is usually left after water has evaporated and, this time, the element was found embedded in the cracks of the Martian rocks. These cracks have traces of mineral veins containing boron, which might have been transported there with the interaction of water and chemicals billions of years ago.
NASA's scientists suggest that there was once a lake in Gale Crater and boron was trapped among the rocks at the bottom, then surface water evaporated but not all for some retreated below as groundwater. This groundwater aided by the right chemicals removed the boron from the rocks and planted this in mineral veins, now uncovered by Curiosity and potentially revealing that microbial life may have thrived once in the planet.
There are still no evidence of life in the planet and rover is presently sidelined as NASA scientists are still investigating and fixing a problem with the drilling system of the little bot, The Verge reported. However, scientists are excited with the new information that Curiosity has uncovered and are still hoping that evidence of life may follow.
Meanwhile, NASA will not be sending any science equipment worth billions of dollars in the SpaceX Mars mission until the capsule achieves a soft landing on the planet. SpaceX will launch on early 2018, taking advantage of the Earth and Mars alignment that occurs every 26 months, Space.com has learned.
NASA offers technical support to the Red Dragon mission through the unfunded Space Act Agreement, but it will get access to relevant data in return. NASA scientists and engineers are excited on the SpaceX use of "supersonic retropulsion," which allows the capsule to travel faster than the speed of sound and yet able to slow down for a soft landing.
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