Not only that, the unfaithful robotic tart intends to date other rocks, too, as she continues her Quixotic search for
Mr. Goodbar Organic Carbon. An expose of the affair is in this YouTube.
A transcript is out in the tall grass for the bandwidth impaired.
This report from NASA emphasizes that knowing the age of rock samples is critical to the search for evidence of past life in Mars' ancient habitable zones. That evidence isn't going to be found in rocks that have been exposed on the Martian surface for extremely long times because cosmic and solar radiation destroys the kinds of organic compounds Curiosity is looking for. If Curiosity finds organic carbon, it will probably be in a younger rock, less exposed to the troublesome Martian radiation.
Fortunately, the science team has discovered a way to use the SAM suite of instruments to date rocks. These components of the roving science lab can measure isotopes in parts per trillion and make other, equally precise measurements of the composition of a sample.
So, Curiosity is dating rocks, now. Not only that, the Ol' Cougar is looking for the younger ones.
Although Curiosity is more than half way through her projected life cycle, she isn't letting dating rocks distract her from looking out for future Martian astronauts. Curiosity continues to make and report continuous radiation measurements that will allow NASA to evaluate and manage the risks of human habitation on the 4th planet, should that occur as some now plan.
Remember, a full transcript of the video is out in the tall grass.
Hi. I'm John Grotzinger. I'm the project scientist for Mars Science laboratory mission and this is your Curiosity Rover Report. Curiosity's got some great new findings. We've been able to find a place on Mars where we can actually date a rock. That means we don't have to have astronauts to bring them back to Earth like we did back in the 1960's. We simply drill the rock, put it into the instrument and its able to give us the age at which time the rock formed.For my Mars diaries and all things Martian on Daily Kos, visit Kossacks on Mars.
One of the big things that Curiosity is trying to do is explore and find organic carbon on Mars. It turns out that this carbon depends on how old the rock is that its inside of and so some rocks have been exposed recently to the Martin atmosphere and others have been exposed for a long time. And the ones that have been exposed for a long time have received more radiation damage which is bad for the preservation of organics. So the good thing about this is that we can now put this knowledge to use and as we explore in the future we're going to be able to find the younger surfaces where we think they might preserve better signs of organic carbon.
As we learned how to explore with Curiosity, we discovered that the rocks that we have drilled are actually part of much thicker packages, much longer-lived intervals of geologic time. And so we have a long-lived habitable environment that's actually younger than what we may have expected when we first came to Gale Crater. And this means that other similar places on Mars, that are also relatively young, that have such clay bearing rocks, could've also been habitable.
In addition to this, Curiosity has now been making measurements for over a year on the survace of Mars of the amount of radiation an astronaut would feel if they were walking around on the surface of Mars. What we find right now is that the levels are not to high. On the other hand, we haven'thad any big solar storms yet, so most of the radiation comes from the background cosmic radiation. The measurements are important because they will allow NASA scientists to understand how much radiation an astronaut on Mars would have to withstand.
This has been your Curiosity Rover Report and be sure to check back for more updates.