WASHINGTON, July 31, 2012 - After an epic 354-million-mile trek through space, the Mars Curiosity Rover is zooming along at 13,000 miles per hour toward a scheduled August 6 landing on the Red Planet to search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. The newest episode of Bytesize Science highlights Curiosity Rover's mission, scientific instrumentation and the role that chemistry plays in the search for life on other planets.
It features Mars Science Laboratory Deputy Science Manager Ashwin Vasavada, Ph.D., of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Vasavada takes viewers "under the hood" of the rover, explaining the role of the analytical chemistry instruments found onboard the Curiosity. The use of analytical chemistry techniques will aid in Curiosity's primary mission goal: to determine the habitability of the Gale Crater, which scientists believe was once filled with water.
The video explains several chemical processes that Curiosity is equipped to perform, including laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, mineralogy tests and X-ray spectroscopy. Test results from these instruments will pave the way for future Mars missions and may provide insight in the search for life on other planets.