Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Talking down Mars life and NASA's Curiosity-lander

Jeffrey Bada, co-organizer of a special two-day symposium on the Red Planet, during the 242nd Meeting of the ACS in Denver, talked down the likelihood of NASA's Curiosity lander nailing down life on Mars. The landing site shows recent activity, yet he talked of billions of years radiation. Can it be that the 2016 ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter will lose much of its rationale when Curiosity comes up trumps in a year or two?
The Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory will land next August, to start a 2 year-investigation. Curiosity will analyze dozens of samples drilled from rocks or scooped from the ground with far more powerful scientific instruments than the earlier Mars rovers. Solid evidence of life-chemicals will surely be found by the gas chromatograph, mass spectrometer and tunable laser spectrometer, with combined capabilities to identify a wide range of organic compounds and isotopes.
So why downgrade Curiosity's mission as only “to determine if conditions are favorable for life” and claim that missions need to search rocks as deep as 1 metre?

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