NASA’s senior Mars rover, Opportunity, is examining rocks at the edge of Endeavour Crater for signs that they may have been either transported by a flood or eroded in place by wind.
NASA announced earlier this week that dark streaks that appear on Martian slopes in the summer, lengthen and then fade as winter approaches are seeps of salty water. The news that Mars still has surface water again raised hopes that it may have life. It will take thoughtful mission planning to find out, says Washington University in St. Louis Mars expert Ray Arvidson, PhD.
The hallmark of the 18-month Pathfinder Program in Environmental Sustainability at Washington University in St. Louis is the field trips to ecosystems, such as the Mojave Desert, that give students the chance to see and touch the land they have been studying. It’s hard to get the students back in the van, says Ray Arvidson, who leads the program.
Nothing in Adam Steltzner’s younger years pointed to his becoming NASA’s chief engineer for the highly delicate landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars. He flunked high school geometry and dropped out to join a rock band. On March 26, Steltzner will tell how “Curiosity Changed My Life” for the Assembly Series. His presentation, which will begin at 6 p.m. in Graham Chapel, is free and open to the public.
Ten years ago, on Jan. 24, 2004, the Opportunity rover landed on a flat plain in the southern highlands of the planet Mars and rolled into an impact crater scientists didn’t even know existed. In honor of the rover’s 10th anniversary, Ray Arvidson, PhD, deputy principal investigator of the rover mission, recently took an audience on a whirlwind tour of the rover’s decade-long adventures and discoveries.
The Mars rover Opportunity, which was designed to operate for three months and to rove less than a mile, has now journeyed more than seven years crossing more than 21 miles. Today, it is poised at the edge of a heavily eroded impact basin, the possible location of clay minerals formed in low-acid wet conditions on the red planet.