What is red, is named after a Roman god, and takes 687 days to circle the Sun???
MARS! And I’m not talking about the candy bar. Yes, there is a candy bar called the Mars Bar, the first of a famous brand that would later unveil MilkyWay, Snickers, and M&Ms.
But I have quickly gotten off topic. The mention of CHOCOLATE will usually do that. Anyway, I’ve been fascinated with the recent landing of the Curiosity rover on the planet Mars. In fact, I have been quite AMUSED, and I think you will be, too.
On August 6, 2012, NASA (The National Aeronautics SpaceAdministration) landed the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover on Mars. The mission? Could Mars have once harbored life? In other words, has Mars ever had the environment to support small life forms called microbes? Scientists also want to know if humans could survive there one day. “Here, ye! Here, ye! Who wants to live on Mars?”
Curiosity is a six wheeled, car-sized robot, traveling the surface of Mars… right now. Curiosity is equipped with the same parts a human would need to go exploring (body, eyes, nose, brains, arms, and legs). Check out this model for a closer look at all of Curiosity’s parts.
My favorite tool is the Chemistry and Camera instrument, also called the ChemCam. This devise emits over one-million watts of lasers into Martian rocks, creating glowing plasma. A telescope records the light, and a device called a spectrometer determines what the rocks are made of. While scientists have used this instrument on Earth already (deep sea exploration), this is a first for the exploration of another planet.
Another very important instrument is the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons. This devise detects hydrogen on the Martian surface. And if there is hydrogen, then there may have been water. And if there may have been water, then there may have been… LIFE!
On a side note: Water is made from two molecules of hydrogen and one molecule of Oxygen. Both of these elements are gasses, but together they make this magical liquid that feeds all life on Planet Earth. Water can also be a gas (water vapor) and a solid (ice).
On a more popular note: Who knows of the musician will.i.am? Well, did you know that he just released a new song called “Reach for the Stars”? Did you know that it was the first song to have ever been beamed back from Mars? Here is NASA’s video on YouTube. By the way, this song gets Professor Watermelon’s seal of approval (big grin and wink).
For the next two years, Curiosity will be roving the surface of Mars. Let’s watch together as two neighboring worlds come closer and closer together. Find updates here.
With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these WHAT IF questions will help you get started.
WHAT IF Martians sent a rover to Earth, and it landed in your main character’s backyard?
WHAT IF scientists were able to collect special Mars rocks which contained newly discovered minerals? What would these minerals be used for? A cure for cancer? Invisibility? Eternal life? Teleportation?
WHAT IF the ChemCam discovered that Mars is one giant ball of CHOCOLATE?
The possibilities are endless, and please leave your own WHAT IF questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.
So, grab a cup of hot cocoa, a pencil and a piece of paper, and let’s begin. With your imagination, we can go anywhere. I look forward to seeing where you take us.
The word of the day is “element”. Here is the definition: one of a class of substances that cannot be separated into simpler substances by chemical means. For example, water can be separated into hydrogen and oxygen, but hydrogen is not made of anything else but hydrogen. The same goes for oxygen.