This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division.
NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission landed the nuclear powered rover Curiosity on the floor of the 96-mile wide Gale Crater on August 6, 2012. In a complicated maneuver using a sky crane, it touched down near “Mount Sharp,” a peak, which, were it on Earth, would rise up a little over 3 miles. Early on in the mission, Curiosity drove through an ancient streambed and accomplished its major objective, finding evidence of a past environment suited to supporting microbial life. The rover collected the first samples of material ever drilled from rocks on Mars, and analyzed them, providing proof of conditions favorable for life early in the Red Planet’s history. Measurements from another drilled sample showed the age of the rock being sampled to be 4.2 billion years old, although it had only been exposed at the surface for 80 million years. Analysis of additional samples revealed that Gale Crater likely hosted a potentially habitable lake-and-stream system for millions of years in the ancient past.
Since 2014, Curiosity has been exploring the various rock layers on Mount Sharp to see how the mountain has changed over geological time and whether it also may have harbored habitable environments in the ancient past. The rover has found sand dunes and further evidence of ancient freshwater deposits. The Mars Science Laboratory mission was originally planned for two years, but Curiosity is still providing valuable data after six years.
Mars researcher Scott Guzewich will be speaking about Martian lakes in the second program of the 2018 lecture series. Guzewich earned a B.A. in meteorology from Penn State and served as a weather officer in the Air Force before completing a Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Science at Johns Hopkins.
Date: Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Time: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Place: Pickford Theater, 3rd floor, Madison Building
For inquiries about this program, contact Stephanie Marcus in the Science, Technology & Business Division at [email protected] or the division office at: (202) 707-1212. Individuals requiring accommodations for this event are requested to submit a request at least five business days in advance by contacting (202) 707-6362 or [email protected].