Weekly Space News: An Incredible Opportunity
12 years after landing, NASA’s Opportunity rover is doing something no Mars craft has done before:
Mars geology has taken an interesting turn as of late. In the last few years more & more evidence has shown that Mars may have not only once had water, but also lakes, rivers, streams, and even oceans. And these waters have left a mark, leaving behind gullies and features that, even in the dry dust of Mars today, leave a history of flow.
And where there’s water…there was life?
There’s evidence that the Moon also had seas. Well sort of--lunar seas were actually oceans of lava. Yes, Dr. Evil. On ancient Earth you may have been able to look up in the sky and see liquid hot magma across large sections of the Moon’s surface (which are now permanently marked as the darker areas, or mare):
The only scientist to have walked on another world is Harrison “Jack” Schmitt of Apollo 17. He was a geologist which makes sense since there’s so much to learn from the landscapes of these worlds, especially Mars, including information about their enigmatic histories.
It’s taken durable robots like Opportunity, and now Curiosity and robots like the Google Lunar XPRIZE lunar rovers, to continue to take advantage of their potential to surprise us with bold new discoveries. We are in the golden age of opportunity for space exploration and discovery, and these brave little robots are leading the way to a new era of understanding.
Author: Nick Azer; Editor: Susan Emmer