“Curiosity” Trying to Erase the Curiosity!

Mars has always been the subject of curiosity for scientists and will continue to be because of a theory known as planetary habitability.

Planetary habitability, in simple terms, is the ability that a planet has to sustain life. Scientists favour planets that have some water on its surface and this requires the orbit of a planet to lie within the habitable zone. The habitable zone in the case of the Sun extends from beyond Venus to somewhere around the semi-major axis of Mars.

For those who don’t know, here’s what NASA aims to achieve through the two-year Mars Exploration Program:

a)   To determine whether there is life on Mars.

b)   To characterize the climate and prepare for human exploration.

Having safely landed on Mars, Curiosity is attempting to reach the Glenelg (where three terrains join together in the Gale crater).

The Gale crater consists of layered mountains and can potentially serve as the source to find out the history behind the planet.

It’s been 43 days since its landing and Curiosity is going to study the first Martian rock ”Coronation”, a day after sending photographs of the solar eclipse, showing one of the planet’s moons, Phobos,  moving across the face of the Sun.

The NASA team is planning on having Curiosity wait a little before performing the mission’s first “contact science” to analyse the contents of “coronation”.

And that’s not all; a planet to planet music broadcast was conducted, which released a new song, “I Am Mars”, by Black Eyed Peas rapper Will.I.Am. Curiosity also played the song “Reach for the Stars” for engineers and students at a laboratory in California.

The journey to Glenelg is expected to take at least three months. Until then we can only wait and see what new experiments are conducted by NASA scientists and if “Curiosity” is able to determine whether Mars could be a habitable planet.

Shraddha Jandial

Image Source [http://i.space.com/images/i/20283/i02/curiosity-virtual-model.jpg]