A brief overview of how Curiosity, the rover NASA sent to Mars in November 2011, is making amazing discoveries suggesting some parts of Mars may have been habitable—and could be again in the future.
Could life have previously flourished on Mars? Will humans be able to travel there and colonize the red planet? These are questions NASA scientists hope Curiosity will help answer and that Miller explores, covering the essentials. By gathering information about Mars’ climate and geology, the rover is helping scientists uncover the secrets of the planet and its past. Curiosity has discovered an ancient streambed where water once flowed for thousands of years and analyzed rock samples proving that the surface soil on Mars still has water. Drilling into Martian rock, the rover has detected the key elements necessary for life—sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon. Curiosity’s measurement of radiation on Mars shows levels similar to that at the International Space Station. All of this information, Miller explains, will help scientists decide if human travel to Mars is possible and colonization of the planet plausible. He also includes information on previous Mars missions and how the idea of life on the red planet has captured imaginations since the late 19th century.
An informative, useful look at a current and ongoing mission to explore our nearest neighbor in the solar system. (source notes, glossary, further reading, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)