NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has arrived at Mount Sharp and recently released 360-degree video, but it’s these huge discoveries so far that have really made Curiosity worth the many billions of dollars that have been spent on it.
Curiosity is currently at the Namib Dune near Mount Sharp, taking samples and attempting to explain the shifting sands seen from orbit on the surface of Mars, and hopefully uncovering more fascinating details about the planet itself. An amazing new 360-degree video was posted on YouTube, as we reported recently, giving the viewer the chance to experience what it’s like to be on another planet, according to a Discovery News report.
But it’s these five astonishing discoveries since it landed in August 2012 that the rover will be remembered for when all is said and done.
1) The rover found that Mars is a suitable home for life, at least at one point, according to a NASA fact sheet. The Red Planet had the right chemistry to support living microbes, including carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulphur. And Curiosity showed that fresh and possibly drinkable water once flowed on the planet long ago.
2) The rover also discovered organic carbon in Mars rocks by analyzing samples. This shows that the raw materials for life were there.
3) Curiosity was able to detect background lvels of methane in Mars’ atmosphere. Methane can be produced by living organisms, and by chemical reactions between rock and water.
4) One discovery was not such good news: the radiation on Mars would be above levels acceptable for humans. But it certainly helps in planning a future manned mission to the Red Planet.
5) Mars once had a thicker atmosphere and more water, Curiosity discovered based on measurements of the present atmosphere.