Curiosity «breath» Martian air — and kept the sample for the study
Mars rover Curiosity has studied the composition of the atmosphere of the Red Planet. To find out which of the gases is the Martian "air" and in what proportion they are mixed, the robot "breath" — and sample the atmosphere went into a special device Sam (analyzer Martian samples), reports BBC Russian Service.
This is the first chemical study of the Martian atmosphere for three and a half decades — since the mid-1970s, similar analyzes were conducted rovers Viking.
Sam is not finished work, but at this stage no surprises expected — is known that Mars atmosphere prevails carbon dioxide. It is found more "Viking". Now scientists are most interested in whether the fix Curiosity in the Martian atmosphere traces of methane. The presence of this gas on the Red Planet was recently discovered satellite and terrestrial telescopes, and this fact is extremely intriguing researchers.
The fact that methane has a relatively short-lived "life span" and his constant presence indicates the presence of a renewable source — the biological or geochemical. Scientists have high hopes that Sam will be able to shed some light on this mystery.
The results of the first tests will be made public next week, the deputy program manager Curiosity Joy Crisp, but added that in order to make any definitive statements about the nature of the Martian methane, it will take some time.
"In ideal conditions, Sam can fix the concentration of methane in the trillions of particles, and the expected concentration — judging by the orbital measurements and data telescopes — a few tens of billions of dollars (ten thousand times more)," — he explained to reporters.
For months on Mars, Curiosity, officially called the Mars Science Laboratory, drove away from the place of his descent into the crater Gale more than 100 meters.
Engineers for a few days "parked" rover to practice in dealing with the two-meter robotic arm. It secured instruments, weighing 30 kg, and scientists need to learn to deal with it in a weak Martian gravity.
Once the training is over, Curiosity will go further, to a place in the crater, dubbed Glenelg, which scientists have chosen, since they are just three dispensers geological object. It is possible that the first geological samples the rover will have on the road, and immediately hold their analysis.
Scientists can not wait to try out the work and another tool which is equipped Curiosity — X-ray spectrometer, which allows to determine the chemical composition of geological rocks.