NASA Curiosity rover detects high levels of methane on Mars

Pablo Tucker
June 28, 2019

The two organizations are Battelle Education, of Columbus, Ohio and Future Engineers, of Burbank, CA.

By focusing the Mars 2020 "Name the Rover" contest on K-12 entries, NASA seeks to engage USA students in the engineering and scientific work that makes Mars exploration possible.

"Now that's a Mars rover", Mars 2020 Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations Manager David Gruel said.

Ahead of it's next mission to Mars, NASA is looking for help naming the rover that will land on the red planet.

It will be launched in 2020 aboard an Atlas V 541 rocket and landing on Mars is scheduled for early 2021. Batelle will recruit judges and students and open them up to STEM networks. Future Engineers is a company that uses contests and challenges to engage students. Students can start sending in name ideas this fall.

Methane gas, which on Earth can be generated by microbial activity, has been detected on Mars since 2003 via probes orbiting the planet and telescopic observations from Earth.

If you want to get even more involved, there's also the opportunity to send your name to Mars as an engraving on a silicon chip that will be sent with the 2020 Mars rover.

The rover is now being assembled and tested at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Any CH4 formed might endure only a few centuries, so quantities quantifiable today direct to additional recent releases, or more precisely, recent in terms of the massive time edges involved in planetary evolution.

The Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals instrument, dubbed SHERLOC, will detect chemicals on Mars that could be linked to life.

The rover's laser spectrometer tool detected the methane while the auto-dimension rover became parked on the Teal Ridge set aside interior Gale Crater, a 96-mile-extensive dry lake mattress that became created millions of years ago by an asteroid impact.

SHERLOC also will carry five samples of spacesuit material, including a piece of an astronaut's helmet and four kinds of fabric, to study how the materials stand up to the radiation astronauts could face on Mars.

The arm will soon be mounted on 2020, and the Mars helicopter will be tucked underneath the rover.

The new Mars rover measures 10 feet long (3 meters), 9 feet wide (2.7 meters), and 7 feet tall (2.2 meters). Everyone who signs up (there's no age limit) will receive a souvenir boarding pass for their efforts.

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