World Bulletin / News Desk
NASA's Mars rover, Curiosity, dispatched to learn if the most Earth-like planet in the solar system was suitable for microbial life, has found clear evidence its landing site was once awash in water, a key ingredient for life, scientists said Thursday.
Curiosity, a roving chemistry laboratory the size of a small car, touched down on Aug. 6 inside a giant impact basin near the planet's equator. The primary target for the two-year mission is a three-mile (five-km) -high mound of layered rock rising from the floor of Gale Crater.
Scientists suspect the mound, known as Mount Sharp, is the remains of sediment that once completely filled the crater. Analysis of a slab of rock located between the crater's north rim and the base of Mount Sharp indicate a fast-moving stream of water once flowed there.
Images taken by Curiosity and released on Thursday show rounded stones cemented into the rock, which rises like a piece of jack-hammered sidewalk from the planet's surface.
The stones inside the rock are too big to have been moved by wind, Curiosity scientist Rebecca Williams, with the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, told reporters on a conference call.
"The consensus of the science team is that these are water-transported gravel in a vigorous stream," she said.
The rock is believed to be from the floor of an ancient stream which was once between ankle- and knee-deep.
The analysis is based on telephoto images taken by the rover, which is en route to a patch of land named Glenelg where three different types of rock intersect.
Scientists have not yet decided if the slab of rock warrants a chemical analysis, or if there are better targets for Curiosity to look for the building blocks of life and the minerals to preserve it.
"The question about habitability goes beyond the simple observation of water on Mars," said lead scientist John Grotzinger at the California Institute of Technology.
"Certainly flowing water is a place where microorganisms could have lived. This particular kind of rock may or may not be a good place to preserve those components that we associate with a habitable environment," he said.
The $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity mission is NASA's first astrobiology mission since the 1970s-era Viking probes.
An American astronaut and two Russians who carried a Sochi Olympic torch into open space landed safely and on time on Tuesday in Kazakhstan
Elephants can tell whether a human poses a threat by listening to his voice and sussing out subtle clues about his age, gender and ethnicity, according to a study
Scientists had to abseil and scubadive to get into the caves, some of which are around 50 metres deep (165 feet). They found wall paintings and bone fragments left by the indigenous Kawesqar people that could help date the caves.
Asteroids have broken apart many times over the eons, but never before have scientists been able to witness it.
Should these ships become a reality, a total of 44% of expenses could be cut from operating cargo ships, according to industry consultant Moore Stephens LLP.
Earthuquake lights sometimes appear in the sky before an earthquake takes place and are often mistaken for UFOs.
Remains of the new species were unearthed in Portugal by an amateur fossil hunter in 2003 in the rock cliffs of Lourinhã
The females of an Asian swallowtail butterfly species known as the Common Mormon often mimic the appearance of another species of butterfly that is toxic for predators to eat
Scientists from Turkey designed 'the smart infrared cameras' to deal with dense fog related flight delays which cause thousands of flights to be postponed or cancelled each year.
Artificial muscles can bear 117 times more than natural muscles.
Scientific works by students aged between 11 and 15 in invention and design categories will take part in the olympiad.
GCHQ collected images from the webcam chats of more than 1.8 million users globally in a six-month period in 2008 alone
NASA'a Kelper telescope has discovered 715 new planets outside of our solar system.
The vault, which was designed to withstand all disasters, was opened in 2008 in order to store an adequate amount of seeds which would enable the human species to revive lost crops in the event of global disaster.
A cybersecurity firm said that it uncovered stolen credentials from some 360 million accounts that are available for sale on cyber black markets
NASA says about 100 tons of material from space enter Earth's atmosphere every day. The moon, with no protective atmosphere, is fair game for celestial pot-shots