Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering presents:
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission is seeking to determine if Mars was ever habitable for life. The Curiosity rover landed in Gale Crater on August 5th, 2012 and has been exploring the geology and environment of the region ever since. Curiosity is the most capable planetary rover to date and it is truly a unique mobile laboratory. The payload includes a laser-shooting chemistry instrument that uses laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, an x-ray diffraction instrument, and a combined evolved gas/gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer capable of measuring stable isotopes and organic compounds. A Canadian contribution, an arm-mounted alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer, is also providing critical insight into the chemical composition of rocks and soils. Curiosity has recently successfully drilled into a rock, the first such drilling ever by a planetary rover, and is currently analyzing the material for its chemical and mineralogical composition, as well as for possible organic compounds. The nominal mission is scheduled to last 1 Martian year (686 days) and Curiosity will explore the 5km high Mount Sharp located in the center of Gale Crater. This presentation will summarize the mission activities and findings to date.