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Mission to Mars

On August 6th 2012, the Mars rover named Curiosity, launched by NASA, landed on Mars. Since then, this mini-SUV sized rover has been exploring Mars' climate, geology and terrain, with its primary aim being the investigation of the possibility of life on the red planet.

In order to study Mars, Curiosity has a set of advanced technological systems, which includes cameras to take high-resolution images of the landscape, spectrometers to characterize minerals and radiation detectors to measure radiation levels. In addition, this rover has special features to analyze the existence of life-supporting elements. One such instrument bombards the planet's surface with neutrons, which will slow down if they come up against hydrogen atoms-an element in water. Furthermore, the rover is capable of picking up rock samples using its 7-foot long arm, melting the samples inside the craft and analyzing the gases produced, in order to determine the constituents of the rocks and minerals.

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An artist's illustration of the rover on Mars

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The components of the Mars mission Curiosity

Needless to say, Curiosity is not the only active Mars mission. The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) entered the orbit of Mars in October 2016.

This orbiter and lander, is currently attempting to find traces of methane and other biological-supporting gases, in the atmosphere. Another Mars orbiter, MAVEN, by NASA, is also researching the climate and atmosphere of the intriguing red planet.

One of the most significant achievements and demonstration of Indian space research and pride is ISRO's Mangalyaan, technically termed as the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM). This 1350kg orbiter was constructed and manufactured by ISRO in just 15 months, and costed merely $73 million, which is considerably lower than Mars mission launched by other organizations. Mangalyaan took off from the launching pads of Sriharikota on November 5th 2013, and after nearly a year of space travel, finally entered the orbit on Mars on September 24th, 2014. Mangalyaan's mission is to study the environment of Mars and search for the existence of methane gas, a prominent indicator of the possibility of life.

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NASA's MAVEN during its design and construction phase

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An image capturing Mangalyaan's launch, on November 5th 2013

NASA's Curiosity is responsible for exciting discoveries that have been made over the past few years. Sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and oxygen, all fundamental life-supporting elements, were found in the rover's first drill samples. Moreover, in December 2014, Curiosity identified organic materials on Mars, which provides a definitive indication of the availability of an environment which might have harbored life. NASA's statement on this discovery was,

"While the team can't conclude that there was life at Gale Crater, the discovery shows that the ancient environment offered a supply of reduced organic molecules for use as building blocks for life and an energy source for life."

What makes the search for the breadcrumbs of life on Mars more thrilling is the possibility of human colonization on Mars. In September 2016, the world-famous business tycoon and engineer Elon Musk announced his plan of sending people to colonize Mars, with his company SpaceX. His proposed spacecraft is capable of carrying a minimum of 100 people, and is described to have everything from restaurants to theatres.

With human beings on planet Earth actively deciding the fate and future of the 4.6 billion year old red planet, it is evident how far we have come as a species. From designing advanced space systems for climate and terrain analysis, to planning a full-fledged human colony on Mars, we have proven that the sky is definitely not the limit.

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Elon Musk, in a presentation of his Mars colonization plan

Mission to Mars
my img

An artist's illustration of the rover on Mars

On August 6th 2012, the Mars rover named Curiosity, launched by NASA, landed on Mars. Since then, this mini-SUV sized rover has been exploring Mars' climate, geology and terrain, with its primary aim being the investigation of the possibility of life on the red planet.

In order to study Mars, Curiosity has a set of advanced technological systems, which includes cameras to take high-resolution images of the landscape, spectrometers to characterize minerals and radiation detectors to measure radiation levels. In addition, this rover has special features to analyze the existence of life-supporting elements. One such instrument bombards the planet's surface with neutrons, which will slow down if they come up against hydrogen atoms-an element in water. Furthermore, the rover is capable of picking up rock samples using its 7-foot long arm, melting the samples inside the craft and analyzing the gases produced, in order to determine the constituents of the rocks and minerals.

my img

The components of the Mars mission Curiosity

Needless to say, Curiosity is not the only active Mars mission. The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) entered the orbit of Mars in October 2016.

This orbiter and lander, is currently attempting to find traces of methane and other biological-supporting gases, in the atmosphere. Another Mars orbiter, MAVEN, by NASA, is also researching the climate and atmosphere of the intriguing red planet.

my img

NASA's MAVEN during its design and construction phase

One of the most significant achievements and demonstration of Indian space research and pride is ISRO's Mangalyaan, technically termed as the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM). This 1350kg orbiter was constructed and manufactured by ISRO in just 15 months, and costed merely $73 million, which is considerably lower than Mars mission launched by other organizations. Mangalyaan took off from the launching pads of Sriharikota on November 5th 2013, and after nearly a year of space travel, finally entered the orbit on Mars on September 24th, 2014. Mangalyaan's mission is to study the environment of Mars and search for the existence of methane gas, a prominent indicator of the possibility of life.

my img

An image capturing Mangalyaan's launch, on November 5th 2013

NASA's Curiosity is responsible for exciting discoveries that have been made over the past few years. Sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and oxygen, all fundamental life-supporting elements, were found in the rover's first drill samples. Moreover, in December 2014, Curiosity identified organic materials on Mars, which provides a definitive indication of the availability of an environment which might have harbored life. NASA's statement on this discovery was,

"While the team can't conclude that there was life at Gale Crater, the discovery shows that the ancient environment offered a supply of reduced organic molecules for use as building blocks for life and an energy source for life."

my img

Elon Musk, in a presentation of his Mars colonization plan

What makes the search for the breadcrumbs of life on Mars more thrilling is the possibility of human colonization on Mars. In September 2016, the world-famous business tycoon and engineer Elon Musk announced his plan of sending people to colonize Mars, with his company SpaceX. His proposed spacecraft is capable of carrying a minimum of 100 people, and is described to have everything from restaurants to theatres.

With human beings on planet Earth actively deciding the fate and future of the 4.6 billion year old red planet, it is evident how far we have come as a species. From designing advanced space systems for climate and terrain analysis, to planning a full-fledged human colony on Mars, we have proven that the sky is definitely not the limit.