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Machines Like Us

Chemistry On Mars

Wednesday, 08 August 2012

After an epic 354-million-mile trek through space, the Mars Curiosity Rover zoomed along at 13,000 miles per hour toward an August 6 landing on the Red Planet to search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. We took a visit to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to talk to the Mars Science Laboratory Deputy Scientist, Ashwin Vasavada, who gave us a look "under the hood" of the rover, explaining the role of the analytical chemistry instruments found onboard Curiosity. Curiosity's primary mission goal is to determine the habitability of the Gale Crater, which scientists believe was once filled with water. Curiosity is basically an entire chemistry lab packed into a one mobile unit, equipped with the tools necessary to test the chemical composition of soil. Test results from these instruments will pave the way for future Mars missions, and may provide insight in the search for life on other planets.