Lost in all the hoopla of the Olympic Games, an historic event for the Human Race occurred yesterday when the craft “Curiosity” landed on our sister planet, Mars. Congratulations to NASA, JPL, and others for a landing that would have scored a perfect 10 in the gymnastics competition! (Although the old 10-point scale for gymnastics has been replaced by some other scale.) See more about the mission and the landing at:
If you’re curious about Curiosity’s mission, it’s about water. Oh sure, there are a host of other observations that this amazing bit of Human engineering can perform, but the real question is this: are we alone in the Universe? Contrary to the constant messages of science fiction, we have never found any signs of life elsewhere. As we understand it, that “Curious” molecule water is absolutely essential to life. So, quite simply, no water, no life.
So a huge part of Curiosity’s mission is about water. Pictured today is the DAN instrument for Curiosity: Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons. We don’t know what that is either, but its purpose is to search for water. Maybe frozen water; maybe below the surface water; but water. Mars may be our sister planet in the solar system, but right now it doesn’t look anything like Earth. The home of the Human Race is dominated by liquid water; so far, we haven’t found evidence of a single drop on Mars. But there are signs that liquid water may have been present in the past, and that solid water may be present now. If groundwater exists on Mars, then perhaps some microbiological life is present. As simple as that life may be, finding it would be the most profound event in the history of the Human Race: we would not be alone in the Universe!
But make no mistake: this mission is most of all driven by curiosity about water! A nice thing for us water folks!