Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Mars NASA Space Science

NASA Rover May Contaminate Its Samples of Mars 147

sciencehabit writes "The Curiosity rover will definitely find evidence of an advanced civilization if it lands safely on Mars. That's because rock samples the rover drills are likely to be contaminated with bits of Teflon from the rover's machinery, NASA announced during a press teleconference. The bits of Teflon can then mix with the sample, which will be vaporized for analysis. The problem for the scientists is that Teflon is two-thirds carbon — the same element they are looking for on Mars." Fortunately, this problem isn't a showstopper: "...there are still mitigation steps to take if SAM's analysis is potentially compromised. Contaminant production appears to be stronger in the drill's percussion mode, when it pounds powerfully and rapidly on Martian rock. So ratcheting the percussion down, or switching over to the more gentle rotary mode, may make the issue more manageable. If that doesn't work, the MSL team could just take the drill out of commission, solely scooping soil instead of also boring into rock. Curiosity could still access the interior of some Martian rocks by rolling over them with its wheels, Grotzinger said. But all in all, he's confident that the team will figure things out in the next month or two."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

NASA Rover May Contaminate Its Samples of Mars

Comments Filter:
  • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @03:54PM (#40300013)

    >>>720p video

    That's it? 1080i doesn't require any extra bandwidth but gives 2.2 times the resolution. (Or they could do 1080p at half the framerate.) TRIVIA: The scientists at NASA were able to rewrite Voyager's software, and use digital compression, to increase its photo resolution 3x more than originally designed.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @06:51PM (#40302321)
    We see here one of the primary strengths of robotics over human missions, namely, the speed with which one can correct errors . It'll be no more than 10 years, er, 20, no make that 30 or even... 40 years before they can get another mission up there with a drill that isn't contaminated, maybe. With a manned mission, they'd be able to troubleshoot the drill on the spot, which is clearly an inferior process.

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.