Science

What has Curiosity taught us since we arrived on the Purple Planet 10 years in the past?

Six wheels, probably the most correct instruments and a whole lot of profitable experiences. On Saturday, August 6, the work of Curiosity (“star automotive” Moliere) celebrates 10 years of operation, because it was despatched on Mars by NASA in 2012. Whereas on the way in which, the machine the 900kg took 1000’s of photographs and analyzed. The soil of Mars has one query in thoughts: Has the Purple Planet ever been inhabited? “Proof”to reply scientists, who’ve found many extra, 78 million kilometers from Earth.

Mars was liveable… about 3.5 billion years in the past

That is the primary research of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the undertaking round Curiosity: the (very) Purple Planet way back supplied favorable situations for the emergence of life. To achieve this conclusion, scientific groups carried out experiments with a robotic from a distance, in an effort to sweep, scan and dig the Martian soil. “Little holes, little holes…”And the Nationwide Heart for House Research (Cnes) at first of 2020, speaking concerning the tune. lilac cowl, by Serge Ginsburg. Small holes, after all, however many discoveries. In reality, these wells made it attainable to detect the presence of sulfur, oxygen, phosphorus and even carbon – “crucial for all times”NASA says on his web site *.

Digging a few centimeters deep was done by Curiosity on Mars.  (NASAJPL-CaltechMSSS)

“It’s an important discovery, as a result of it impacts the nice query of life”explains to France Data the astronomer Sylvester Morris, who invented “ChemCam,” an instrument created partly by two groups from the Analysis Heart for Astrophysics and Planetary Science (IRAP) and Cnes in Toulouse (Haute- Garonne).

Included by Curiosity, this technique makes it attainable to investigate the chemical composition of the rock with out transferring the robotic, due to the pulsed laser. “In ten years, we’ve got fired 900,000 weapons. (laser), to cowl the world with satisfaction, All of those are from Toulouse and Los Alamos (US). Because the Curiosity rover strikes ahead, the MSL mission’s scientists are in fixed communication.

“You need to watch out whenever you wish to order a laser gun, a shovel… It is like driving a automotive with 60 folks, all at a distance.”

Sylvester Morris, astronomer

in France

One other necessary discovery: a lot of dwelling molecules had been found by Curiosity Due to the SAM Mini Lab, additionally working from Toulouse. However notice, these particles don’t show the presence or lifetime of dwelling issues on Mars. They simply present it “The fundamental components had been there to help easy life 3 billion years in the past”, Valerie Mousset, MSL Challenge Supervisor at Cnes factors out, who provides to that “All of the chemical compounds in our DNA are additionally on Mars.”. This research of the results of Martian life is just not the work of Curiosity, however the work of To his youthful sister, the persistent, agitator who has been transferring on Mars since January 2021.

Water flowed in liquid type for a very long time on the Purple Planet

Water was a necessary a part of life as we all know it on Earth, and it was the middle of concern throughout Curiosity’s launch. Since then, extra proof has proven that streams, or rivers of contemporary water, had been as soon as a part of the floor of Mars. pebbles, seen by the rover, whose rounded form could also be the results of a protracted journey down NASA’s steady stream*.

But in addition exhausting clay ruins, found on the backside of what seem like dry rivers. This confirms the selection of touchdown web site (from Curiosity), explains franceinfo Olivier Gasnault, present director of ChemCam at Cnes. The rover was despatched to a lake that was a well-sealed lake (…) to substantiate assumptions that had been made for many years.

A 3D stereo view of the round pebbles (center), taken by the Curiosity rover on Mars on May 20, 2013 (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Curiosity additionally allowed us to be taught extra concerning the properties of Martian water, which was It’s neither too acidic nor too fundamental. Valerie Mousset explains, with a professional warmth as “impartial” with him. Presence of mud and comparatively low salinity So inform NASA*From these waters It was contemporary and possibly drinkable’. Earlier than the formation adjustments, there are greater than two billion years.

An unprecedented view of the floor of Mars

All of those discoveries are made attainable by taking a better take a look at the Martian atmosphere, together with Grace or mercy As much as 17 cameras contained in the rover present views in all instructions. Since touchdown on Mars, Curiosity has traveled simply over 28 kilometers, and a mean of seven.6 meters per day. Yellowknife Bay, Pahrump Hills, Buttes de Murray or the wards of Mount Sharp: in these wonderful locations the rover has gone. Immortal work of science is greater than 500,000 photographs – together with some selfies in entrance of surprising rocks.

On the rover mast, the half also known as the instrument head, the MastCam for instance can take shade photographs and movies, in addition to 3D stereo photographs. Due to particular filters, this sensor can spotlight the construction of sure stones. Curiosity additionally has the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), which is the scale of a magnifying glass connected to the top of a robotic arm, able to observing microelements similar to human hair. Footage of the land intimately Meteor encountered on the way in which *, Curiosity continues to offer a tremendous view of the purple planet.

We all know extra about how the planet turns into uninhabitable

By with the ability to discover Earth and discover the ambiance, Curiosity has made it attainable to raised perceive the complicated nature of the Martian atmosphere. “This world, which is similar age as Earth, has undergone main adjustments in local weather and geology”, confirms Sylvester Morris. The gravity is 3 times weaker than Earth’s and the fixed chilly (-63°C on common) makes the Purple Planet a frozen and airless desert. Nevertheless it wasn’t all the time like that. On account of Curiosity, MSL mission scientists realized that the ambiance of Mars was very thick previously, earlier than they noticed many gases and water sources evaporate in the identical place.

“That’s what we’re beginning to be taught now and within the subsequent three years, Olivier Jasneau level, This means a transition from the moist season to the driest season on Mars, which seems to have occurred within the type of a protracted cycle.” Meant to final between two and 6 years, Curiosity has far exceeded the expectations of the engineers who designed it. “All the things we’ve got achieved lately is only a bonus”Sylvester Morris is pleased. And though the robotic is in dangerous form, with badly broken wheels, NASA and its companions (together with Cnes) would love to have the ability to take a look at it till at the very least 2025.

A wheel from the Curiosity rover on Mars on January 27, 2022 (NASA/JPL-CALTECH/MSSS)

Primary data collected for future human actions

Amongst Curiosity’s main discoveries within the Martian atmosphere, researcher Olivier Gasnault holds the final prize for future analysis actions. “We now know that the radiation on Mars is greater than that on Earth, which is harmful for people.it strengthens the world. The plan to go to Mars corresponds to the utmost quantity of radiation set by NASA for the lifetime of an astronaut.

However the weapons are ready, by inserting curiosity “beneath sure hills”Scientists have observed a slight lower on this radiation. It is sufficient to proceed the dream of a man-made mission, after the profitable launch of satellites, a number of rovers and even a small helicopter across the planet Mars which is definitely not completed but. to disclose its secrets and techniques.

* Hyperlinks marked with an asterisk discuss with articles in English

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