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Mars Crater Is 'Earth-Like', Say Scientists
Stunning new images beamed back from the Mars robot rover show a landscape that resembles Earth, according to Nasa.
Scientists say the planet's looming mountains and hanging haze are like the Mojave Desert in California.
"The first impression that you get is how Earth-like this seems looking at that landscape," John Grotzinger, chief scientist of the California Institute of Technology said.
He added: "It kind of makes you feel at home.
"We're looking at a place that feels really comfortable."
Overnight, the car-sized Curiosity rover poked its head out for the first time since settling in Gale Crater. It then peered around and returned a black-and-white self-portrait and panorama that is still being processed.
It provided the best view so far of its destination since touching down on Sunday night after nailing an intricate choreography.
During the last few seconds, a rocket-powered spacecraft hovered as cables lowered Curiosity to the ground.
In the latest photos, Curiosity looked out toward the northern horizon. Nearby were scour marks in the surface blasted by thrusters, which kicked up a swirl of dust.
There were concerns that Curiosity got dusty, but scientists said that was not the case.
"We do see a thin coating of dust, but nothing too bad," said Justin Maki, imaging scientist at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the $2.5bn mission.
Scientists were giddy about the scour marks because they exposed bedrock below - information that should help them better understand the landing site.
Since landing, Curiosity has sent home a stream of low-resolution pictures taken by tiny cameras under the chassis and a camera at the end of its robotic arm, which remained stowed.
It also sent back a low-quality video showing the last two minutes and 30 seconds of its descent.
The rover's ultimate destination is a mountain towering from the centre of the crater floor.
Preliminary estimates indicate Curiosity landed four miles away from the base of Mount Sharp, thought to contain intriguing signs of past water - a starting point to learning whether microbial life could exist.
Before the one-tonne, nuclear-powered Curiosity can start roving, it has to undergo several weeks of tedious but essential health checks.
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Come on Curiousity. . Find us proof of life. Then all faiths will have to reimagine their 'creation myths' . Thats not to say religion will become redundant. . . Faith is unquantifiable, when science disproves God, that is the time to pray
Not all faiths Stevie. What about the dogon Faith? They pretty much have their heads screwed on and knew more about the universe and solar system long before Galileo invented the telescope. They new that the invisible to the naked eye Sirius A orbits Sirius B. something that wasn't verified until the 1970s. The information about the universe was apparently given to them by amphibious peoples who arrived by a craft from the stars 3000yrs BC.
Mars mission £2.2b.bn , Olympics £10bn just a thought.
Really comfortable? -50C? Carbon dioxide gas for an atmosphere? A planet which experiences total, planet-wide sandstorms for months and months? An atmosphere 1/100th the density of Earth's? If I remember or don't correctly. Comfortable, they say? Now I think of it, since when has the Mojave desert been ... comfortable??? ... Isn't that where people bake and wander across a harsh landscape splotted with animal skeletons and squawking vultures flying overhead? Isn't the Mojave Desert full of rattle snakes and American scorpions and poisonous spiders?
Isn't the Mojave desert where NASA tested a replica of curiosity within the last six months so that its earth based operators could get used to driving the rover?
The Mojave desert is full of nasty creatures. On the other hand so is South Carolina, where I live. Here, we have bears, crocodiles, snakes, spiders etc. I think this whole Mars colony idea is bizarre. Maybe that's where we're going to export all the world's criminals to in the near future?
Ideal for Nick Clegg. Maybe he would get his own way there with a 100% vote, namely his own, for his cockahoot ideas?
Would be a great place to build a prison one day. . Could send all the worlds worst criminals there with no chance of ever escaping. . Better stop eating cheese sandwiches before bedtime. . .
whens the first mosque been built?
I was a bit concerned about the statement that gale crater looks like the Mojave desert seeing as NASA used a replica to train the operators, In the Mojave. But then NASA does what NASA does best and produces a photo of a small yellow disc shining through the haze on the horizon..... sun rise on mars. The sun looking a lot smaller than it appears on earth