Mars rover Curiosity Back in the spotlight. This time he drilled a hole in the hard rocks of Mars, in Gale Crater. The chemical composition of the rocks, which were not affected by the external environment, will learn: how to look "Red Planet" in the past …
The device is just starting to research the program, calculated for two years. Although previous Mars rovers could also scrape the rock samples from the rocky surface, Curiosity has this mobile laboratory system and drilling of several tools. The drilling process is broken by experts in the control center at NASA phases.
First, they have to make sure that the chosen site for drilling and rock drilling machine itself behave in accordance with the theoretical prediction. If the clot is suitable for the study, there will be a few test wells drilled using percussion instruments, and rotary drills. And only then turned into a fine dust sample will go on-board laboratory rover.
Curiosity's mission is to determine whether there were in Gale Crater in the past environment in which bacteria could exist. The study of rocks is of great importance from the point of view rooted in their annals of geochemical conditions that shaped the surface of Mars. Preparation of rock samples from a depth of a few centimeters will allow for the first time to analyze the chemical composition of the minerals that have not been exposed to the outside of Martian climate and ultraviolet radiation.
Curiosity is east of the landing site, in a small cavity, which is assigned a code designation "Yellowknife Bay." At this point converge three different types of geologic structures. The plot is composed of fine-grained sedimentary rocks penetrated by veins of calcium sulfate. This site is also assigned the symbol — "John Klein", in memory of the deceased employee NASA, who has been involved in the development of Curiosity.
The mission is satisfied with the results, as many of the previous studied rocks have obvious signs of the impact of liquid water. Shortly before arriving at the place chosen for the drilling unit recorded in the area rounded boulders that have formed in the past under the influence of flowing water is probably at the bottom of the Martian streams or rivers.
Roskosmos has announced a competition for the manufacture of rocket "Proton-M" to launch the probe "EkzoMars"
Recall, the American mission Curiosity — is not the only research project on the Red Planet. In 2016, a joint Russian-European project "EkzoMars" will launch orbiter TGO (Trace Gas Orbiter) for the exploration of Mars and the landing on the surface of the demonstration lander EDM. In 2018 will be launched with the Mars Rover landing platform.
It was originally a joint project of ESA and NASA, but the American side came out of it, after which the Europeans have turned to offer cooperation to the Russian Space Agency.
According to the draft agreement between the Russian Space Agency and the European Space Agency, the Russian side provides for the "EkzoMars" two rockets "Proton-M" and provides a launch vehicle from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Russian experts will create a number of scientific instruments for the mission, and are also responsible for the development of the platform.
The initial (maximum) amount of the contract to manufacture the rocket is slightly less than 1.4 billion rubles, the rocket should be ready by November 25, 2015. Applications are accepted until March 12, its results will be announced on March 21. Tender in this case is a mere formality, as the booster rockets "Proton-M" makes only the Khrunichev Center.
ESA will present the first geological map of Mars
European scientists in early June, will present a complete geological map of the surface of Mars, which will begin to look for a place to land for European rover project "EkzoMars." This was announced by the head of the European Space Agency Jean-Jacques Dordain.
"In the beginning of June, we will present the mineralogical map of Mars — the planet. It will be based on data collected by the probe "Mars Express". This card will contain very important information regarding the history of water on Mars, "- said Dordain ..
He added that the geological map of Mars will allow scientists to begin to choose the landing site of the future rover.