World Bulletin/News Desk
NASA on Friday unveiled plans for its Mars rover Curiosity's first road trip, part of a two-year quest to determine if the planet most like Earth could ever have hosted microbial life, scientists said.
The one-ton nuclear-powered robotic science lab landed in a large crater near Mars' equator on Aug. 6 to search for organic materials and other chemistry considered key to life.
The rover's primary target is Mount Sharp, a mound of layered rock three miles (5 km) high rising from the floor of Gale Crater.
Before beginning the 4.3-mile (7-km) trek to the base of Mount Sharp, a journey expected to take months, the six-wheeled Curiosity will visit a relatively nearby site named "Glenelg," which caught scientists' interest because it includes three types of terrain.
The name was selected from a list of about 100 rock formations in northern Canada. Scientists realized Glenelg was a palindrome -- a word that reads the same backward -- and particularly suited as the name for Curiosity's first destination since the rover will have to come back through the site to head to Mount Sharp.
The road trip to Glenelg depends in part on how well Curiosity cruises through the rest of its instrument checkout. Early next week, the rover will test-fire its powerful laser to pulverize a bit of bedrock uncovered by exhaust from Curiosity's descent engine.
A small telescope will then analyze the vaporized material to determine what minerals it contains.
The combined system, known as Chemistry & Camera, or ChemCam, is designed to make about 14,000 measurements throughout Curiosity's mission, said lead instrument scientist Roger Wiens, with the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
"There's a high-power laser that briefly projects several megawatts onto a pinhead-size spot on the surface of Mars," Wiens said. "It creates a plasma, or a little ball of flame or spark."
The telescope, which can observe the flash from up to about 25 feet (7 meters) away, then splits the light into its component wavelengths.
Scientists use that information to determine chemical composition.
Travel to Glenelg, located about 1,600 feet (500 meters) away from Curiosity's landing site, should take a month or longer, depending on how many stops scientists decide to make along the way.
"Probably we'll do a month worth of science there, maybe a little bit more," lead mission scientist John Grotzinger told reporters during a conference call on Friday. "Sometime toward the end of the calendar year, roughly, I would guess then we would turn our sights toward the trek to Mount Sharp."
Ghana is currently hosting a two-day Sub-Saharan Africa Solar Conference organized by independent business media company Magenta Global.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said on Wednesday he would continue and expand the NYPD Twitter campaign a day after it backfired, triggering an outpouring of negative images
Deals on connections that happen before they reach the user, known as interconnection agreements, are outside of their scope.
Rousseff spoke at a global conference that she convened on how to govern a safer, less U.S.-centered Internet after revelations that she and other world leaders had been spied upon by the NSA
The arrests came as Cambodia prepares its first Cyber Crime law, a draft of which has been criticised as contains measures meant to silence criticism of government.
City-killer asteroids are forecast to strike about once every 100 years, but the prediction is not based on hard evidence.
The two-day Net Mundial conference in Sao Paulo will discuss cyber security and how to safeguard privacy and freedom of expression on the Internet, as well as the shape of a future international body
Though the overall number of spying incidents studied tripled to 511 from total in the 2013 Verizon report, most of that increase is due to the addition of new data sources
There were no reports of damage but the ball of fire raised eyebrows after a meteorite crashed to Earth near the Russian city of Chelyabinsk
NASA officials had planned to crash the spacecraft into the moon, after it transmitted its final batch of data.
The discovery is the closest scientists have come so far to finding a true Earth twin
An ambitious project in Turkey's south could see a pioneering clean energy project.
Depending on local weather conditions, the eclipse was visible across a swath of the United States
Google and Facebook have been competing in innovative ways to increase internet access globally and tap into previously untouched markets.
A 14-year-old Dutch girl who sent a terror threat to American Airlines as a Twitter “joke” has been arrested by police in Rotterdam