A Caltech-led team of Mars Science Laboratory scientists has found that a surprisingly Earth-like martian rock offers new insight into the history of Mars's interior and suggests parts of the red planet may be more like our own than we ever knew.
John Grotzinger, Caltech’s Fletcher Jones Professor of Geology and project scientist for Curiosity—JPL’s newest Mars rover, exploring the floor of Gale Crater—will describe its discoveries so far during a free public lecture on Wednesday, April 24.
Caltech geology graduate student Katie Stack says her Caltech experience has provided her with the best of both worlds. Literally.
As one of five Caltech graduate students currently staffing the Mars Science Laboratory mission, Stack is simultaneously exploring the geologic pasts of both Mars and Earth. She and her student colleagues apply their knowledge of Earth's history and environment—gleaned from Caltech classes and field sites across the globe—to the analysis of Curiosity's discoveries as well as the hunt for evidence of past life on the Red Planet.
President Barack Obama called the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Monday morning to congratulate the Mars Science Laboratory team on the successful landing of Curiosity on the red planet. He said that the accomplishment "embodies the American spirit" and that the White House could not be more excited or grateful.
When Curiosity touched down safely on Mars on August 5, John Grotzinger, the mission's chief scientist and the Fletcher Jones Professor of Geology at Caltech, was given the "keys" to the car-sized rover. Since then, most of Curiosity's time has been taken up by a series of checkouts, but she has relayed hundreds of images back to Earth, giving the science team plenty to study and discuss.
The mood in von Karman Auditorium at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) late Sunday night was overwhelmingly, almost deliriously, celebratory. The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, Curiosity, touched down safely on Mars at 10:32 p.m. PDT and minutes later relayed its first black-and-white thumbnail images back to Earth, showing one of its wheels firmly planted on Martian soil.