The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mars Rover Curiosity Finds Evidence of Ancient Martian Lake

The site under investigation. Image courtesy of NASA
The who knows how many year mission of the Mars Rover Curiosity has taken us a bit deeper into the sci-fi world. The car-sized nuclear powered, laser flashing robot has discovered the remains of an ancient lake on Mars. Better yet, this lake once contained the magic mix of chemicals needed to support life ... and to do so for far longer and much closer to the modern age than previously imagined.

Even better yet, those clever scientists operating Curiosity developed a unique technique for the robot to use to actually assess the age of the Martian rocks containing evidence of that not as long ago as imagined lake. Of course, "more recent" means 3.86 to 4.56 billion years ago. This is a method predicted not to work before Curiosity landed. So glad that theory was proven wrong.

And best of all, the Curiosity team reports they have discovered that the winds of Mars ... carrying sand to blast rock faces, eroding them faster than scientists had imagined ... are useful in directing Curiosity to regions where evidence of the building blocks of past life might ... just might (scientists are so cautious) ... exist.

Oh, by the way, one more thing. On its trip to Mars, and now on the surface, Curiosity has been counting radiation for us. The plucky robot is letting us know that astronauts on a round trip to Mars and back would be exposed to roughly 1,000 miliseverts of radiation. That increases a human to a 5 percent increased chance of developing cancer in a lifetime. NASA's current limit is exposure increasing the risk by 3 percent. The team now awaits a major solar event to see how much additional radiation that would dump on the human body during the trip. Much ethics review will ensue. Stay tuned.

Thanks to my friends at Universe Today and NASA for this fascinating information ... and for bringing us one step closer to that sci-fi future.  

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