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Mars:The Quest for Life
Transcript of Mars:The Quest for Life
-Mars is one planet away from us (between 60 and 400 million km)
-Allows for quicker transportation for the spacecraft and better communication
-Reduces the cost involved with sending spacecraft to and from another planet
-Distance from the sun...only receives 43% of sunlight as Earth Geology/Climate Noachian Epoch:4.5-3.5 billion years ago, formation of volcanos and massive flooding of liquid water Hesperian Epoch: 3.5-1.8 billion years ago, formation of lava plains Amazonian Epoch: 1.8 billion years ago to present, formation of Olympus Mons and lava plains -Evidence of liquid water in Martian history intrigued scientists
-Structures spotted by first orbiter "Viking I" seemed to be canals which jumpstarted the search for answers http://scienceclass.ning.com/profiles/blogs/1677792:BlogPost:3140 To Understand the Existence of Life -Mars is essentially a giant time capsule, with history embedded within it.
-We can use Mars to peice together our past and understand how life evolved.
-Located in "Habitable Zone"
- Communication: Between Earth and other spacecraft on Mars, "relays"
- Meteorological: Just like satellites on Earth allow us to detect changes in atmospheric conditions.
-Photography: We use their high altitude to take large surface images of Mars.
-Detect soil compositions using spectrometers
-Contain different scientific devices such as barometer (pressure), seismographs (surface activity), and microscopic imagers.
-Because of their level to the surface, landers produce narrower images than the orbiters can, but in much greater detail.
-Major drawback is their inability to move, once you land in a spot, you are stuck with it. Rovers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Phoenix_landing.jpg -Rovers are equipped with the same scientific instruments as the landers but have the ability to move around.
-Use high definition imaging to photograph the surrface and most importantly to help the engineers “drive” the rovers from Earth. "Human-like" view
-Can drive distances up to 140 meters a sol. In order to drive, rovers use both an onboard “safety manual” and they also require daily programming.
-Rovers appear to be the future of Martian exploration; with human exploration still too costly and dangerous and with Landers becoming more obsolete.
ex: Phoenix Lander (2007) Launching and Landing Spacecraft -Spacecraft are sent to Mars on Delta II rockets (Boeing Company).
-Because each rocket is built for efficiency, the lighter the body of the rocket the better.
-During actual entry and descent into the Martian atmosphere, the heat shield slows down the spacecraft from 12,000 mph to roughly 900 mph.
-The parachute opens and side rockets are fired to stabilize it, what comes next depends on the type of spacecraft. Landers continue to descend using the parachute but rovers inflate airbags and bounce on the surface. ex: "Spirit" Rover (2003-present) ex: The Viking (1976) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/Mer-b-final-launch.jpg Soil Composition
-Phoenix Lander: unexpecred results showed traces of Mg, Na, K and Cl,with a pH of 8.3.
-MER rover: found a pH of 3, this shows that Mars does not have a universal geology.
-The rovers also found several salts in the soil which lowers the freezing point for substances.
-The mineral hematite has been found at multiple locations on Mars. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Exploration_Rover#Scientific_instrumentation APXS Rocks/Geology -According to an MIT geologist , images of rocks taken by Opportunity “look clearly like ripple trough cross-lamination,” (Squyres 319). This finding means that water was a necessary factor in making sedimentary rocks.
-“blueberry” rocks, that are known as concretions, were most likely formed as a result of water seeping through rocks and then hardening.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aq_Callian.jpg http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3a/07-ml-3-soil-mosaic-B019R1_br.jpg Possibility of Life... -No definitive answer yet, strong evidence is building with every mission
-Sedimentary rock formations, concretions, and cross-bedding structures all seem to suggest the presence of liquid water sometime in Martian history.
-Necessary nutrients such as Na and Mg have been found at different locations, capable of growing vegetables like asparagus.
-A Martian meteorite that struck Earth nearly 13,000 years ago has fossilized bacteria from Mars.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ALH84001_structures.jpg Fossilized Bacteria from Allan Hills 84001 1.NASA chose Mars for its:
location, geology, and promise of microbial life in its past.
How has life evolved over time?
2.With the advancement of technology nowadays, equipment and spacecraft can be sent to Mars in a much more efficient manner.
Orbiters patrol the atmosphere, detecting weather patterns and photographing the planet’s surface, whereas the mobile rovers and stationary landers allow for scientists to conduct scientific research on the surface.
3.Because of new advances in computers and equipment, scientists have discovered spectacular things in recent history.
Findings in geology like the presence of sedimentary rocks, cross-lamination, and concretions all point to a Martian history that included liquid water.
4.As significant as these findings are, scientists can not conclude without a doubt that Mars had microbial life in its past, but the evidence seems to be growing in support of life with each new mission.