DAN Russian neutron detector mounted on board NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, on Thursday, was first included and has been successfully tested
- block detectors and electronics DAN
"He turned, checked — and it works. Neutrons he sees. Inclusion was short, just a few minutes, but it will not be permanently turned on, the unit will be included in the work plan," — said the researcher at the Space Research Institute (IKI) Maxim Litvak, who is in the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
- neutron generator
This instrument is a contribution to the project Russian rover and one of the two "foreigners" from the rover's 10 science instruments (the second — a meteorological station REMS, created by Spanish scientists.)
- Mars Rover Curiosity with fixed on board the neutron detector (red marked the location of the device)
DAN is a neutron "dipstick" — neutron generator device irradiates the surface of the planet high energy neutrons and neutron flux of secondary property determines the hydrogen content and hence the water and hydrated minerals. Areas with a large number of these substances are of most interest to search for traces of life.
While the instrument was included in the passive mode, it worked without a generator.
However, we can already say that the device is "held," said Litvak.
"He even without the generator will do the science, the source of neutrons for it may serve as cosmic rays and radioisotope power rover" — a spokesman said.
DAN technology device has been successfully tested on two similar detectors that were previously created in the SRI. One of them — HEND — For more than 10 years on the Martian orbit on board the probe "Mars Odyssey". His data showed that in the high latitudes of the planet there is a large amount of ice — thick layer of permafrost, and the data detector LEND aboard LRO probe allowed to find ice in craters at the lunar poles.
Now HEND met his advanced "grandson." DAN detector can detect the presence of water in the soil with its contents in percent by weight of the unit. In this area of the Gale crater, according to Handy, falls into the water content in the soil from 5% to 6.5% by weight.
NASA chose for the new Mars rover is close to the equator area, not the polar regions, where water ice is certainly more to avoid the threat of contamination of Mars terrestrial organisms.