The Mars Curiosity Rover by NASA landed on August 6th, 2012 in search of any possibility for habitation on the planet. Over one year later, there is discovery news. The first sample of soil analyzed by the analytical suite in the belly of NASA’s Curiosity rover reveals that fine materials on the surface of the planet contain several percent water by weight, according to LakeCoNews.com.
The results were published recently in Science as one article in a five-paper special section on the Curiosity mission. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Dean of Science Laurie Leshin is the study’s lead author. He said, “One of the most exciting results from this very first solid sample ingested by Curiosity is the high percentage of water in the soil. About 2 percent of the soil on the surface of Mars is made up of water, which is a great resource, and interesting scientifically.” The sample also released significant carbon dioxide, oxygen, and sulfur compounds when heated.
In addition, the Rover has taken several hi-res images. Here you see martian dust covering a more than century-old penny. The presence of a penny on a $1.8 billion piece of galactic machinery, is part of a space mission tradition. The penny on Curiosity is a nod to the geologists’ tradition of placing a coin or other object of reference next to a specimen in order to scale its size.