Curiosity rover: why Nasa isn't looking for life on Mars | Stuart Clark

Sunday, August 5, 2012 - 02:30 in Astronomy & Space

With its Curiosity rover – which is not designed to look for existing life on Mars – Nasa is playing an artful game to maximise scientific returns and secure future fundingIt is difficult not to get excited about Nasa's Mars Curiosity rover. It's the most ambitious exploration vehicle yet sent to Mars. It has more instruments than any previous rover and the scientific harvest from its two year mission inside Gale crater could help reveal the planet's climate history and whether there was once a habitable period.Scientifically, that's invaluable. Yet, on the question of whether there is present-day life on Mars, there has been a subtle but important shift.Nasa's Mars Exploration Programme has as its defining question "Life on Mars?" but in the first few seconds of a recent video about Curiosity, project scientist John Grotzinger says, "Curiosity is not a life detection mission. We're not actually looking for life;...

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