Current Events on Mars
The start of the space era has opened people’s eyes to the universe and our planet. Going beyond the Earth’s atmosphere led to a real revolution in science. Thus, investigating the other planets, individuals can advance in studying the history of their own civilization and in predicting the changes of their own planet as well. Therefore, the humanity should conduct the research of Mars, as the acquired knowledge might allow people to avoid the similar destruction of the Earth in the future.
Modern Equipment for the Exploration of Mars
Currently, there are five space stations on Mars’ orbit. Three of them are American ones. Mars Odyssey arrived to the planet in 2001 (Buenestado, Zorzano, Salinas, Méndez, & Martín-Torres, 2015). Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has resided on the Red Planet’s orbit since 2006. Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution have been working there since 2014. At that time, American rovers called Opportunity (since 2004) and Curiosity (since 2012) are operating on the surface of the Red Planet. The initial rover holds the record for the duration of working there. As for the unit Curiosity, it is the heaviest rover on Mars; its weight is about 900 kg (Buenestado et al., 2015).
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is a multifunctional automatic interplanetary NASA station designed for the investigation of Mars. The craft was built by Lockheed Martin Inc. and launched in 2005 (Buenestado et al., 2015). The device comprises a set of scientific instruments, including cameras, spectrometers, and radars, being used for the terrain analysis, stratigraphy, minerals, and ice sheets on the Red Planet.
Curiosity is a representative of the third generation of the Mars rovers. It has 10 scientific instruments installed aboard, CheMin (Chemistry and Mineralogy X-Ray diffractometer) and SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) being among them, allow the rover to carry out detailed geological and geochemical studies (Buenestado et al., 2015). It landed in the north of the Gale crater. It was considered to be the Martian sea in the remote past. There it drills the rock and collects the geological and geochemical samples for the research and the subsequent analysis by scientists on the Earth. Currently, the rover Curiosity is working on the lower slopes of the mountain Sharp in one of the sandy regions of the crater.
The rover Opportunity landed in the Eagle crater at Meridiani Planum in 2004 (Buenestado et al., 2015). Currently, it is on the top edge of Endeavour crater’s rim, the diameter of which reaches 22 km. The rover has continued the study of this crater since 2011. While staying on Mars, it had passed the distance of more than 42 km, was rebooted several times and possibly lost some collected information (Buenestado et al., 2015). Now, the Earth scientists remotely perform collecting of data in the real time, received by the rover.
Proven and Unconfirmed Discoveries, Made on Mars in 2015
It is noteworthy to mention that in the beginning of October the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter made and transmitted to the Earth the photos of the Martian dunes with the high resolution (Los Alamos National Laboratory, 2015). These images allow a detailed study of the soil erosion and the weather, including the movement of the wind on the Red Planet. They form the ground for ensuing incredible and significant discoveries on Mars.
Flow Water on Mars
During this year, the scientists made a few discoveries based on the data, received from the Mars rovers. However, the foremost discovery of the recent time has been made by scientists. They were performing the analysis of the high-quality images, obtained with the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, i.e. the scientific instrument of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Thus, on 2015/09/28, the NASA announced during a special press conference that the scientists firstly had found the evidence of the existence of rivers on the Red Planet (Brown, Cantillo, & Webster, 2015). Under them, they found the seasonal streams of the salty liquid water.
Seasonal rivers of liquid salt water were found in the Mariner Valley (Brown, Cantillo, & Webster, 2015). It is a system of canyons stretching for more than 4.5 thousand kilometers along the equator of Mars. It is named in honor of the first artificial satellite of the planet, i.e. the machine Mariner 9. The rivers flow along the slopes of the Gale and Horowitz craters. Previously, the scientists considered that the water on Mars had been stored mainly in the form of ice on the planet’s surface as well as the polar caps.
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The streams use to form during the warm seasons, when the temperature on Mars increases above 23 °C (Brown, Cantillo, & Webster, 2015). Their width is typically less than five meters; and the length does not exceed 600 meters. As the researchers note, the salts were found only in the location of the seasonal flow of rivers (Brown, Cantillo, & Webster, 2015). In the neighboring areas, the scientists did not find the traces of such kind of compounds.
The Ancient Martian Rushing Rivers
The recent finding of the Curiosity helped scientists to explore in details the features of the former rivers on Mars. The rover found an unusual round pebble. The scientists studied it and found that the rivers of the Red Planet were sufficiently rugged to endure small stones for tens of kilometers downstream (Szabo, Domokos, Grotzinger, & Jerolmack, 2015).
Jerolmack has explained (Szabo et al., 2015) that his command noticed unusual round stones, analyzing the images, which the rover made during his recent stay in the mainstream of the dried river. It occurred on its way to the mountain Sharp. It enabled them, based on the theory, which describes the behavior of the unusual mathematical figure gembets (gömböc in Hungarian). It has a perfect balance to prepare a set of formulas for calculating the distance of the river stone adrift swimming (Szabo et al., 2015).
The researchers with the NASA assistance examined the dozens of the photos of the Martian pebbles (Szabo et al., 2015). According to their calculations, the stones found by the Curiosity lost about 20% of their total volume. It indicates that the boulders have passed an extremely considerable distance with the river waters. The scientists propose the spacing of about 30-50 kilometers. Their calculations show that the source of those stones was an edge of the crater Gale, located exactly 50 km away from the current pebbles’ location (Szabo et al., 2015). Therefore, the researchers assert that in the remote past there were the rushing rivers on Mars flowing.
The Similarity of the Earth’ and Mars’ Continental Crusts
The Mars’ rover Curiosity, while moving to the mountain Sharp, found the traces of granite and other breeds in one of the boulders. They form the basis of the continental crust of the Earth. This fact reaffirms that the Red Planet was similar to ours in the past. In total, the geologists have analyzed the composition of 22 stones. They contained the bright crystals insight (Los Alamos National Laboratory, 2015). All of them consist of a huge number of quite unexpected minerals, for instance, feldspar, quartz, granite, and some others. These samples are similar to the ancient Earth’s crust ones, recently found in Greenland. This similarity can also be confirmed by the amount of silicon and alkali metals in the crystals, found on the Mars surface, as well as a relatively low density of breeds of those stones. R. Wiens and his colleagues consider that they have managed to find the instances of the ancient continental crust of Mars (Los Alamos National Laboratory, 2015). It shows in practice that the history of the evolution of the Red Planet in the earliest epoch of its life did not differ significantly from the Earth’s one in the past.
The Dinosaur Bones on Mars
The US astronomers and ufologists, analyzing the photo, made by the Curiosity on 2015/02/21 on the Mars surface, have found the skull of the herbivorous dinosaur (Hudson, 2015). According to the researchers’ statement, in the lower left corner of the image, one can see the submerged into the sand jaw and the clearly defined nostril of the dinosaur. Unfortunately, the picture does not allow seeing other parts of the alleged ancient animal’s body.
The decisive argument for researchers in favor of the skull on the photo was the presence of teeth (Hudson, 2015). Their color and texture extremely differ from the skeleton. The paleontologists have suggested that the teeth, according to their size and shape, belonged to the herbivores.
Nowadays, there are five research stations on the Mars’ orbit, including free American ones: Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Atmosphere, and Volatile Evolution. At the same time, American rovers the Opportunity and the Curiosity are operating on the surface of the Red Planet. All these devices have a special set of scientific instruments, including cameras, spectrometers, and radars. They are used for the terrain analysis and stratigraphy of minerals and ice sheets on the Red Planet.
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The most significant discoveries made while analyzing the data were received from the Curiosity and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It happened due to the location of these apparatus and their high-quality modern equipment. Thus, analyzing the photos with a high resolution, made by the MRO, the scientists have discovered as follows. There is the flowing salt water on Mars. Due to operating of the Curiosity the researchers have succeeded in studying the similarity of the Earth’s and Mars’ Continental Crusts. They have found out also that there were the rushed rivers in the Gale crater with the prolongation of about 30-50 km.