Author Topic: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread  (Read 811758 times)

Offline Don2

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1440 on: 06/08/2018 06:11 PM »

The significance of the Gale Crater's discoveries almost warrants reconsidering sending 2020 there.  All the same, similar if not better deposits at Gusev and the Jezero/Syrtis area.  I like to think Curiosity as a prelude to what 2020 may find.

That's an interesting thought. We know Gale Crater had a long lived lake and organics, so it would make an excellent sample return site. There are also clay and sulfate terrains that the rover hasn't reached yet. There is the upper mound material, and there is also supposed to be an RSL. Sample collection would go much more quickly at Gale Crater because the site is already well understood and the sample collection rover could head straight for the interesting places. Gale Crater is a warm, low altitude equatorial site which would make it easier to design the sample return lander. The only thing that Gale lacks is a layer of igneous rock which could be sampled for dating purposes.

All that said, I'd still like to go someplace else. Somehow it doesn't feel like progress when we go back to sites that have already been visited. And the Jezero Crater / NE Syrtis area offers a very ancient piece of crust with diverse minerals. However there is a case for sample return at Gale. At Gale, you know what you have, and it's awesome.

Offline Don2

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1441 on: 06/08/2018 06:33 PM »

I’d thought Exomars would be more suitable for this work. After all that’s what TGO & the rover are specifically designed to look into matters such as the ones related to this announcement.

TGO is definitely turning up at the right time with the right instrument payload. And if they find that the isotopes in the methane are different from the current atmosphere, then the race will be on to try to track down the source. The Exomars rover won't help, because it doesn't have an atmosphere sampling capability.

The significance of the annual variation is that a geochemical source would be more likely to produce at a constant rate, while a biological source would be more likely to vary with the seasons. It also means that the source is probably not near the equator, because seasonal variations are greatest close to the poles. The source is probably in the northern hemisphere, because methane levels peak at the end of northern summer. There is a lot of water ice close to the surface near the north pole. Some people have suggested that the area could be a habitat for microbes.

Offline Star One

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LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1442 on: 06/09/2018 08:58 AM »

I’d thought Exomars would be more suitable for this work. After all that’s what TGO & the rover are specifically designed to look into matters such as the ones related to this announcement.

TGO is definitely turning up at the right time with the right instrument payload. And if they find that the isotopes in the methane are different from the current atmosphere, then the race will be on to try to track down the source. The Exomars rover won't help, because it doesn't have an atmosphere sampling capability.

The significance of the annual variation is that a geochemical source would be more likely to produce at a constant rate, while a biological source would be more likely to vary with the seasons. It also means that the source is probably not near the equator, because seasonal variations are greatest close to the poles. The source is probably in the northern hemisphere, because methane levels peak at the end of northern summer. There is a lot of water ice close to the surface near the north pole. Some people have suggested that the area could be a habitat for microbes.

No for the rover I was referring to the organics in the rock. Sorry I should have probably made that a bit clearer in my OP.

As a side point if there is microbial life on Mars it wouldn’t surprise me if and when it is DNA sequenced it will very similar/identical to life on Earth as I’ve a feeling that Mars & Earth are linked that life started on one & then was able to travel to the other. My money is on Mars first as recent studies have indicated it was superior to Earth for life wins ago so the Martians we’ve always been looking for are us.

Actually just found this article that says Exomars rover will be able to study methane.

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ExoMars could also shed considerable light on the origins of Red Planet methane, said Chris Webster, who led the new Curiosity methane study. The ExoMars rover will likely be able to characterize the carbon in methane molecules, determining how much of it is carbon-13, which contains one more neutron in its nucleus than a "normal" carbon-12 atom. (A methane molecule consists of a single carbon atom bonded to four hydrogen atoms.)

"Even in relatively low methane abundances, they should be able to get the carbon-13 ratio," Webster, a senior research fellow at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, told Space.com, referring to the ExoMars team.

https://www.space.com/40831-future-mars-rovers-search-alien-life.html
« Last Edit: 06/09/2018 08:01 PM by Star One »

Offline Kaputnik

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1443 on: 06/10/2018 02:09 PM »
This is exciting stuff. The discovery of organics received some press coverage but I didn't learn about the seasonal methane detection until I read about it on NSF.
I presume that seasonal does not necessarily equate to biological. Could methane be trapped in polar deposits and simply released seasonally when these deposits thaw?
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Online RonM

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1444 on: 06/10/2018 03:37 PM »
This is exciting stuff. The discovery of organics received some press coverage but I didn't learn about the seasonal methane detection until I read about it on NSF.
I presume that seasonal does not necessarily equate to biological. Could methane be trapped in polar deposits and simply released seasonally when these deposits thaw?

Yes, methane created by chemical processes deep underground could be trapped by a frozen surface, even at lower latitudes. So, the seasonal release doesn't mean biological activity. However, since there is a seasonal variation, biological methane is a possibility. I wouldn't bet on it, but there might be some microbes underground. Good for more exploration and research grants.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1445 on: 06/11/2018 12:01 AM »
This is exciting stuff. The discovery of organics received some press coverage but I didn't learn about the seasonal methane detection until I read about it on NSF.
I presume that seasonal does not necessarily equate to biological. Could methane be trapped in polar deposits and simply released seasonally when these deposits thaw?


That is one possibility.  However that just puts the question of the methane source one step further back. 
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Star One

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1446 on: 06/18/2018 08:31 PM »
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New selfie from @MarsCuriosity rover shows the huge dust storm raging in the background. Processing: @_TheSeaning (link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/seandoran/42803766882/in/photostream/) flickr.com/photos/seandor…

https://mobile.twitter.com/coreyspowell/status/1008768321569935361

Offline Blackstar

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1447 on: 06/20/2018 09:02 PM »

Offline Star One

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1448 on: 08/16/2018 08:11 PM »
NASA identifies 'foreign object debris' spotted by Mars rover

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There was some concern the rover might have dropped a piece of itself. "In fact, it was found to be a very thin flake of rock, so we can all rest easy tonight -- Curiosity has not begun to shed its skin," Curiosity team member Brittney Cooper declared, after a closer look. 

Curiosity got a better view of the rock by using its ChemCam to zoom in and identify it as a natural piece of the Mars landscape.

https://www.cnet.com/news/nasa-identifies-foreign-object-debris-spotted-by-mars-rover/#ftag=CAD-09-10aai5b

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