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UC Davis Professor Eager For Mars Research to Begin

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Part of Curiosity's purpose is to take Martian soil samples and relay their molecular makeup to UC Davis Professor Dawn Sumner and her team.   

Sumner previously spent time studying Antarctica, which is one reason NASA invited her to help direct the research on Mars.  She says the continent and the planet have much in common, "There's a landscape that's dominated by wind and physical processes in both places. And, so you see a lot of the same thing -rocks on the ground, and the way the dust blows.  And so, it's similar in some ways, but Mars is much, much, much drier."

She says the pictures the rover has taken show great promise for their research, "When we landed, the rockets actually blasted away a bunch of sort of fine material on the surface.  And, so we can see they sort of excavated down a little bit and there are different textures at different depths." 

Engineers are performing systems checks before they allow the Curiosity rover to start roving.   That work is supposed to be complete in about ten days.  That's when Sumner's team can begin directing the rover's experiments.

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