This artist concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life. This oblique, southward-looking view of Gale crater shows the landing site and the mound of layered rocks that NASA's Mars Science Laboratory will investigate. Maybe because it appears as a speck of blood in the sky, the planet Mars was named after the Roman god of war. Two new NASA missions, one that will roam the surface and another that will orbit the planet and dip briefly into its upper atmosphere, will try to discover what transformed Mars.
The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission features Curiosity, the largest and most advanced rover ever sent to the Red Planet. The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission, scheduled to launch in late 2013, will orbit Mars and is devoted to understanding the Red Planet's upper atmosphere. When water gets lofted into Mars' upper atmosphere, solar radiation can break it apart into hydrogen (or deuterium) and oxygen. MAVEN will also determine how much Martian atmosphere has been lost over time by measuring the isotope ratios of other elements in the very high atmosphere, such as nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, and noble gases like argon. Also, Curiosity will carry a weather station, which will help the MAVEN team understand how changes in the upper atmosphere are related to changes at the surface. To see our content at its best we recommend upgrading if you wish to continue using IE or using another browser such as Firefox, Safari or Google Chrome.
Italian art historians claim they have found 100 previously unknown works by Caravaggio, one of the giants of the Renaissance. The sketches and paintings, if proved to be authentic, would be worth an estimated 700 million euros (A?560 million).


They were found in a collection of paintings and drawings from the workshop of Peterzano which has been held in a castle in Milan, Castello Sforzesco, since 1924, after they were transferred there from a nearby church. There are signs that in the distant past, billions of years ago, Mars was a much more inviting place. The Curiosity rover bristles with multiple cameras and instruments, including Goddard's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite. It will help determine what caused the Martian atmospherea€”and watera€” to be lost to space, making the climate increasingly inhospitable for life. By then, SAM on board the Curiosity rover will have made similar measurements from Gale crater, which will help guide the interpretation of MAVEN's upper atmosphere measurements. To find out what the Martian atmosphere was like in the past, scientists will use what they discover with MAVEN about the various ways the atmosphere is being removed.
Curiosity will grind up Gale crater minerals and deliver them to SAM so the isotope ratios can be measured, giving a glimpse at the Martian atmosphere from long ago, perhaps when it could have supported life. Things like the solar wind, a tenuous stream of electrically conducting gas blown from the surface of the Sun, and explosions in the Sun's atmosphere called solar flares, and eruptions of solar material called coronal mass ejections can all strip away the upper atmosphere of Mars in various ways. By looking for evidence of water, carbon, and other important building blocks of life in the Martian soil and atmosphere, SAM will help discover whether Mars ever had the potential to support life. Normally, two atoms of hydrogen join to an oxygen atom to make a water molecule, but sometimes the heavy (and rare) deuterium takes a hydrogen atom's place. Since the lighter version escapes more often, over time, the Martian atmosphere has less and less hydrogen compared to the amount of deuterium remaining. With that data, they will build computer simulations, or models, to estimate the condition of the Red Planet's atmosphere billions of years ago.


The Red Planet's thin atmosphere does little to shield the ground against radiation from the Sun and space.
Spacecraft sent to orbit Mars have identified patches of minerals that form only in the presence of liquid water. Scheduled to launch in late November or December 2011, Curiosity will be delivered to Gale crater, a 96-mile-wide crater that contains a record of environmental changes in its sedimentary rock, in August 2012.
However, if the measurements of the ancient ratios from SAM don't match up, this suggests that we may have to look at other ways the atmosphere could have been lost, such as giant impacts from asteroids," says Mahaffy, who is Principal Investigator for SAM and Instrument Lead for the Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer instrument on MAVEN.
It appears that in its youth, Mars was a place that could have harbored life, with a thicker atmosphere warm enough for rain that formed lakes or even seas.
Some scientists believe giant impacts could have blasted significant amounts of the Martian atmosphere into space. Liquid water, a necessity for life, can't exist for very long herea€”any that does not quickly evaporate in the diffuse air will soon freeze out in subzero temperatures common over much of the planet. They memorize them as students, learning by force of repetition, and carry them into maturity for their later works,” said Mr Bernardelli Curuz. He said he would also be delighted if the attribution was proved correct, but that the claims should be studied by a panel of experts. In April an Italian art historian put forward a new theory – that the artist was murdered on the orders of the Knights of Malta to avenge the attack on one of their members.



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