Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mars Science Lab Curiosity.

On Friday, September 28, Nilton Renno (from the University of Michigan Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences) gave a talk to the club entitled “Mars Science Lab Curiosity.”

Back in March, Nilton had given us a talk entitled “Deliquescence and Liquid Water on Mars.” In short, it is now known that liquid salty water is present on the surface of Mars, at least in some locations and during some parts of the Martian year (most of the time water is present in the form of ice).

There was another spacecraft on its way to Mars, the Mars Science Lab Curiosity, which was scheduled to land in August. After his first talk, Nilton agreed to come back for a second talk, after the lander made it to Mars. This was a somewhat risky proposition since many past attempts to land spacecraft on the red planet have ended in failure, and a talk about a failed Mars mission might be rather short.

As it happened, Curiosity successfully landed on the surface of Mars on August 6. There were only a few minor issues. Thus Nilton's second talk on September 28.

During the September talk, Nilton described the mission and its goals. Unfortunately it will take some time to sort out the science results. At the time of the talk, Nilton could only give us a few hints.

Photograph by John Causland.


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