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."
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
The legal action is the first to emerge from a humiliating episode for Microsoft, which the software company has never fully explained and has accounted for only as a "technical error."
The widespread bug surfaced late on Monday, when it was disclosed that a pernicious flaw in a widely used Web encryption program known as OpenSSL opened hundreds of thousands of websites to data theft.
For some, increased connectivity has allowed them to see social network and sharing websites like Youtube and Facebook for the first time.
The suspects exploited the fact that some users had the same pin number or password for both credit cards and the loyalty card to create fake cards and charge items earlier this year
The radar is part of a safety system that ensures a failed rocket will not threatened populated areas.
The World's latest solar energy technologies with innovative products produced in Turkey will be showcased at the fair.
Kaspersky Lab uncovered evidence that a few hacking groups believed to be involved in state-sponsored cyber espionage were running such scans shortly after news of the bug first surfaced
Facebook did not specify how many ads will now appear in the right-hand column, though a sample image on the blog showed a single ad in the right-hand column
StoreDot's device charged a dead Samsung S4 smartphone battery in 26 seconds during a demonstration of the product.
Weapons like the electromagnetic rail gun could help U.S. forces retain their edge and give them an asymmetric advantage over rivals, making it too expensive to use missiles to attack U.S. warships because of the cheap way to defeat them.