Curiosity's big idea: Was Mars ever a habitable planet?

This video interview with Ashwin Vasavada, Deputy Project Scientist of the Mars Science Laboratory, is a nice overview of the what everybody's favorite currently operational Mars rover is looking for.


  1. Is there a suggested mechanism that would allow there to be less perchlorate on the surface than there is now?  That would seem to be key for any likelihood of life <spockvoice>as we know it</spockvoice>.

  2. a few weeks ago i asked someone at nasa if there were microphones on the rovers and if so why haven’t we heard the sounds of mars? and if not, why not? isn’t listening just as important as looking?

    my pet theory is there is a mic and all they hear is music from a now subterranean civilization

    i still haven’t gotten a reply from nasa

    1. I’ve read that an earlier Mars mission had a microphone, but it didn’t return anything interesting so Curiosity doesn’t have one. Consider that the atmosphere is much thinner on Mars, so sound doesn’t travel nearly as well or as far.

    2. Go to the middle of some big desert, listen and report back how interesting it was. This is why Curiosity does not have a microphone. And if you really want to hear how it sounds then it can be quite easily simulated from pressure and wind speed data.

  3. Mars doesn’t have a magnetic field. Without it we are now left with virtually no atmosphere. With the atmosphere so thin we could only hope for microbial life.

    It would be interesting to find shells or calcification in mt. Sharp’s layers – it would prove that mars at some point had thick atmosphere, and a strong magnetic field. 

  4. If the scientific consensus is already “duh!” about Mars once having life, oceans, rivers, continents, then why don’t we explore how far down one would have to dig to find any evidence of life or former buildings. 

    Have too many millions of years passed for anything to be left but dust, or would some evidence remain? 

    Can we extrapolate which parts of Mars would have been continents and oceans and rivers, and if so, can we apply Earth’s example to determine where some likely locations for larger cities would have been? (And just how big would a rover have to be in order to do some serious digging – not the “one soy protein boost” scoop action we’ve had so far, but actual excavation?).

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