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Mars NASA Space

NASA Looks To Volcanic Rocks As Target For Next Mars Rover 33

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "At a 3-day workshop, planetary scientists advocated for igneous rock–bearing landing sites as high-priority targets for NASA's next Mars rover mission, scheduled to launch in 2020. The $1.5 billion rover, a near-copy of the Curiosity rover, will collect about 30 samples of rock and soil for eventual return to Earth. Mineralized fracture zones at such sties may have been home at one time hydrothermal systems, with hot, fluid-filled fractures. Hydrothermal sites on Earth harbor ecosystems with extremophilic microbes."
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NASA Looks To Volcanic Rocks As Target For Next Mars Rover

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  • by Squidlips ( 1206004 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @01:33PM (#47039633)
    I think that the current MSL rover is doing the right thing, searching for lake-bottom sediments and not rusing to the base of Mt. Sharp like the non-scientists in the Media seem so keen on. Searching for extremophiles is fine, but not at the expense of more missions to study water-borne sediments. Vallis Mawrth and other sites beckon.
  • is a sty that is getting worser and worserer. Everybody know that pigs live in sties. Not extremophilic microbes. Doh.
  • Targeting extremophilic deposits assumes that life on Mars, if it ever existed, really did or colonize start volcanic pipes or underwater vents. This is a big assumption.
    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      Why? Pretty much everywhere we look on Earth, life has colonized, even boiling springs and groundwater in mines many kilometers underground. The whole point of life is that anywhere that the most basic fundamentals can be met, it eventually finds a way there.

      Meh. At least they'll probably find some neat rocks ;) I happen to own land comprise of basalt (and a bit of rhyolite) modified by a hydrothermal system. You find the neatest rocks on such land - opal, quartz, chalcedony (jasper, chrysoprase, etc), zeo

    • Just a theory, but it's theorized that life on earth may have originated at deep sea vents. If we don't know how long life on Mars lasted or how far it colonized, it makes sense to look for it at the most likely origin point.
  • I'm all in favor of spending money on space exploration, but the way I see it, Mars represents a point of diminishing returns. In the true spirit of exploration, we should begin looking at other interesting environments, such as drilling into Europa or Enceladus. This obsessive focus on Mars is a boon for Mars experts, but it has a real cost in terms delayed progress towards understanding other solar system and deep space targets.

    Space exploration missions will inspire audiences and yield side-benefits no matter where they go. Why not spread what little wealth there is and look towards bolder, more exciting targets?

    Here's another well-argued perspective on my point:

    http://www.theonion.com/articl... [theonion.com]

    • We're nowhere remotely close to having the technology to drill through Europa or Enceladus. We've never drilled anywhere near that far into Earth, with all the heavy equipment we have here. The fact that it's ice doesn't really help, it's harder-than-rock ice and melting it will probably take similar energy to melting rock on Earth.

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein