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Did life ever exist on Mars? It could have

  • More than 3B years ago, Mars had all a building blocks required for life including celebration water.
  • Curiosity is a initial corsair that can cavalcade for samples of Mars and investigate them in a built-in lab.
  • Could humans come from Martian origins? A lead NASA operative says it’s a possibility.
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Curiosity’s outlines on a aspect of Mars

Now a latest from Mars, interjection to NASA’s impossibly worldly geologist: a one-ton Rover named Curiosity that landed on Mars some-more than 4 years ago. Its biggest find so distant is this: some-more than 3 billion years ago, Mars had all a building blocks required for life. Back afterwards Mars and Earth were unequivocally similar—wet, warm, and habitable. But as life grown on Earth, Mars became cold, dry and inhospitable. Did life ever exist on Mars? We don’t know—yet.  But a rover, Curiosity, is on a hunt and has been solemnly maneuvering by a topographic value trove. Tonight, you’ll see overwhelming pictures, and hear what Curiosity is revelation us about Mars — and Earth. 

From Mars, Curiosity can hardly see Earth some-more than 30-million miles away.  But Curiosity is saying Mars as never before—leaving a mark—its tracks– and promulgation behind postcards of silt dunes– 20-feet tall, fluctuating for miles; ancient mill lakebeds that have been dry for billions of years;  and time-lapse cinema of a Martian sunset.  Like any vain photographer, Curiosity poses for selfies along a approach as she works to solve Mars’ many severe mysteries.  

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60 Minutes match Bill Whitaker interviews Katie Stack Morgan, a geologist during NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

Katie Stack Morgan: So we’re reading a rocks with Curiosity.

Bill Whitaker: Reading a rocks…

Katie Stack Morgan: We review a rocks.

Katie Stack Morgan, a geologist during NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, helps confirm what cinema Curiosity should take and where it should go. Hundreds of scientists and engineers support a rover. They can’t expostulate it in genuine time from Earth, given there’s a 30-minute time loiter to get a summary to Mars and back.  So, Curiosity, shown in this NASA animation; gets a instructions beamed adult during a start of any day.  And a corsair is such a gifted geologist, that it can learn us a lot from a singular pebble, fused into a bigger rock.

Katie Stack Morgan: There’s a pebble right here and it’s indeed utterly round.

And on Mars, spin pebbles meant they used to be wet.

Katie Stack Morgan: And if we consider about pebbles that we find in a tide on Earth, they tend to be unequivocally spin as well, given as they pierce in a tide pebbles are attack other pebbles. And they spin off all a small corners. That’s how we know this deposition was shaped in rushing water. This is a initial justification we have from a aspect that H2O flowed opposite a aspect of Mars.

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Rob Manning, arch operative during NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory  

This NASA animation is formed on Mars tangible surface. Curiosity’s capabilities embody a laser that zaps rocks adult to 23 feet divided to find out what they’re done of. It’s a initial corsair that can cavalcade for samples of Mars, and investigate them in a built-in lab.  An early representation told us some-more about that H2O that used to be here and led to Curiosity’s biggest find so far.

“Could have been that Mars was habitable before Earth was.  And life got a foothold on Mars and took a tour to Earth and we’re all Martians.”  

Rob Manning: The H2O that was on a aspect of Mars, we could dip it adult and splash it.

Rob Manning, arch operative during JPL, told us, given a H2O was drinkable, and given Curiosity also found essential organic chemicals, Mars could have upheld life.

Rob Manning: Does that meant life was there? It doesn’t. We don’t know.

Bill Whitaker: You’re articulate about microbial life.

Rob Manning: Microbial single-cell organisms. But if we would demeanour for it currently alive, it wouldn’t be on a surface. You have to go subterraneous usually like we have life on this planet, outrageous amounts of life, vital subterraneous on this planet.

Manning told us life competence have trafficked behind and onward between Mars and Earth.

Rob Manning: When a meteor comes along and hits Mars, a stone from Mars can be carried up, transport afterwards in circles around a object until someday it will strike into Earth and land in, say, Antarctica.

 –where a stone from Mars was detected in 1984.

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The one-ton corsair Curiosity

Rob Manning:  Right.  We’ve found Mars rock. And we’ve found them all over Earth. And a retreat is also true. Certainly Earth rock, with life in it, has taken a outing to Mars.

Bill Whitaker: Could that life tarry a trip? It’s what 30-million miles?

Rob Manning: We don’t know. We consider life competence be means to do that.

Get ready. Here’s a punch line.

Rob Manning: Could have been that Mars was habitable before Earth was.  And life got a foothold on Mars and took a tour to Earth and we’re all Martians.

Bill Whitaker: You know how mind-blowing that is?

Rob Manning: But it’s possible. Life is amazing.

Katie Stack Morgan: Mars could have been habitable when Earth wasn’t. ‘Cause we’re looking during rocks that are very, unequivocally old. 

Bill Whitaker: How old?

Katie Stack Morgan: We’re articulate billions of years.

Bill Whitaker: Why is it that we can’t find rocks here that are as aged as on Mars?

Katie Stack Morgan: Most of Earth is constantly recycling, as a plates on a aspect pierce around.  But here on Mars we don’t unequivocally have justification for picture tectonics.  This is a Mars stone record, of Mars story recorded during a surface.  And that’s a unequivocally singular event to try a time in a solar complement that might not be recorded on a aspect of Earth.

The scariest partial of a whole goal was Curiosity’s alighting on Mars. It couldn’t rebound onto Mars, cushioned by hulk airbags a approach smaller rovers had. Curiosity weighs a ton, too large for a bags. So lead operative Adam Steltzner and his group came adult with a weird devise to container Curiosity into a drifting saucer, glow rockets to delayed a skirmish and afterwards use prolonged cables to reduce it onto Mars. Many here suspicion they were crazy.

Adam Steltzner: The group famous that if we unsuccessful we would find no comfort or condolence from a ubiquitous public. Because the—

Bill Whitaker: There’d be a lotta fingers pointing.

Adam Steltzner: The male on a travel says, “That looks crazy.  we could told we it was crazy.” And so we grown this small matter we would make before we would even start. It goes like this:  Great works and good unsteadiness might be uncelebrated during a outset.

Because of a communication time lag, they could not approach a alighting from Earth.  The formidable maneuvers were pre-programmed.  Steltzner and his group could usually wait—and worry.   

Adam Steltzner: We were usually sitting in a control room…

Bill Whitaker: Biting your fingernails.

Adam Steltzner: Pacing behind and forth, perplexing to remember to breathe.

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Cheers explode as Curiosity’s touchdown is confirmed.

Here’s animation of a landing, and a tangible greeting during goal control.

Adam Steltzner: The group celebrated.  And afterwards someday in a diminutive hours of a morning we went home, crawled into bed with my mother and wept given we was spent.  we was overwhelmed.

This is where Curiosity landed—the smudges on a left.  They demeanour like bake marks, though they’re not.

Katie Stack Morgan: They’re dust-clearing marks.  This is where a rockets privileged a dirt away.

Bill Whitaker: we see a trail?

Katie Stack Morgan: That’s right so these are a outlines of a rover. So, a corsair landed here and afterwards it gathering along—

Bill Whitaker: How about that—

Katie Stack Morgan: –made a integrate of turns.  And we can indeed see this from orbit, that is incredible.

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Satellite picture of wind-carved ridges on Mars.

NASA’s been promulgation satellites to Mars for some-more than 50 years. Three are orbiting Mars now, monitoring a continue and promulgation behind images of hulk craters; wind-carved ridges; and an avalanche of silt pouring down a towering kicking adult outrageous clouds of dust.  Down on a aspect one of a 3 progressing rovers continues to operate. “Opportunity” is usually one-fifth a distance of Curiosity.  It can’t dip adult samples or investigate a aspect a approach Curiosity can, though Opportunity has been gnawing overwhelming cinema for 13 years; while Curiosity’s goal roughly finished after usually 6 months.

Rob Manning: We had had…The corsair had some arrange of memory problem.

Rob Manning told us a mechanism glitch came within one hour of interlude communication with Curiosity forever. The corsair has dual matching computers called commander and co-pilot.

Rob Manning: The commander is ostensible to have adequate self-diagnosis and be intelligent adequate to say, “I’m not doing unequivocally well. I’m not feeling well. I’m gonna let a copilot take over.”

Yet commander was not doing good and refused to give adult control. 

Rob Manning: In fact it starting behaving a bit like it had an attitude.

Bill Whitaker: The mechanism had an attitude?

Rob Manning: The mechanism has grown an opinion in a approach that we have never seen before. When we told it to go take a nap, it refused to take a nap. Then it refused to take pictures. Then it refused to do some-more scholarship via a day. It usually stopped doing these things. And we said, “What a heck is going on?”

Bill Whitaker: And time is using out.

Rob Manning: Time is using out, given in an hour it’s going to spin its—radio off and stay off perpetually and we’ll remove this unequivocally costly rover.  

Manning’s group sent an sequence to kill a pilot, anticipating that would force a co-pilot to take over.

Rob Manning: We’re watchful for a copilot to arise adult and afterwards spin on a radio to let us know that it was alive. We should get a signal. Nothing. Another notation goes by.  Nothing. Four mins go by. Now we’re starting to get unequivocally disturbed that maybe—

Bill Whitaker: Sounds like a movie.

Rob Manning: It unequivocally was. Yeah, it was removing nerve-wracking. And bing, there was a signal. And a backup commander was apparently in charge. And so—

Bill Whitaker: Is a backup commander still in assign today?

Rob Manning: The backup pilot’s still in charge. We have given remade a bad pilot. 

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NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab built a possess patch of Mars, where they can use maneuvers with Curiosity’s twin, graphic here.

To assistance approach a pilot, a Jet Propulsion Lab built a possess patch of Mars, where they can use maneuvers with a rover’s twin.  Adam Steltzner told us a corsair can see where it’s going and make mid-course corrections to equivocate pitfalls.

“We’re indeed awaiting to see that transition when Mars transitioned from being a habitable world to being one that was not habitable.”  

Bill Whitaker: Why is she so slow?

Adam Steltzner: We are exploring. We don’t wish to skip anything. So she moves deliberately.

–so Katie Stack Morgan can investigate all Curiosity sees.

Katie Stack Morgan:  This is indeed an active dune field.

Bill Whitaker: What do we meant by an active dune field.

Katie Stack Morgan: It means that a silt particles that are creation adult a dunes are still relocating today.

Bill Whitaker: Being blown opposite a landscape?

Katie Stack Morgan: They’re unequivocally solemnly being altered opposite a surface.

Bill Whitaker: Because of a Martian wind?

Katie Stack Morgan: Uh-huh.

Bill Whitaker: Everybody we speak to talks about how study Mars helps us improved know Earth.  How so?

Katie Stack Morgan: When we demeanour during rocks on Mars we are potentially saying a image of of a solar complement during a time before Earth grown a sourroundings as we know it.  It’s unequivocally like we were there.

Now, Curiosity has started climbing partway adult Mount Sharp. That’s because it landed nearby.  The towering is a covering cake of history– any descending covering divulgence how Mars altered over time.

Katie Stack Morgan: The layers during a bottom, those are a comparison layers.  And any unbroken covering is younger and younger and younger.

Bill Whitaker: As we stand a towering what do we design to find? What do we wish to find?

Katie Stack Morgan: We’re indeed awaiting to see that transition when Mars transitioned from being a habitable world to being one that was not habitable.

Bill Whitaker: What happened to a atmosphere of Mars to spin it into this roughly passed planet?

Adam Steltzner: It cooled, it mislaid a captivating field, a solar breeze blew divided a atmosphere.  And so it dusty out. It became a shear of a former self.  We are still a plum; it’s a prune.

Bill Whitaker: What does that Martian story tell us about Earth?

Adam Steltzner: we don’t consider we have to worry about drying out like Mars.  But it does learn us—

Bill Whitaker: Well, that’s a relief.

Adam Steltzner: Right, though it does learn us of how ethereal a change of a sourroundings is. And so it should worsen a appreciation of what a beautiful, warm, soppy cuddle vital here on Earth unequivocally is. 

Produced by Robert G. Anderson, William Harwood and Aaron Weisz. 

Article source: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/did-life-ever-exist-on-mars-it-could-have/

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