Curiosity Finds Organic (Carbon-based) Material in Gale Crater, Mars

The Mars Curiosity rover team announced today (June 7) finding organic matter – carbon-based compounds – in three billion year old mudstone sediments from Gale Crater. They also found seasonal changes in the amount of methane in the local atmosphere.

Scientist and Mars rover

Dawn Sumner is a member of the Mars Curiosity team.

Dawn Sumner, professor of earth and planetary sciences at UC Davis, is a member of the Mars Curiosity team and coauthor on the first paper. She helps with sample selection and mission planning and was instrumental in promoting Gale Crater as a landing site for Curiosity.

Looking For Martians At McLaughlin Reserve

By Kathleen Wong

In a universe with billions upon billions of planets, narrowing the search for extraterrestrial life is no mean feat. One approach seeks analogs of otherworldly conditions here on Earth, and characterizes the mineralogy, geochemistry and biology of these areas.

A NASA team is drilling at McLaughlin Natural Reserve. By studying soils and microbes in this area, they hope to learn about similar environments on Mars. (NASA photo)

A NASA team is drilling at McLaughlin Natural Reserve. By studying soils and microbes in this area, they hope to learn about similar environments on Mars. (NASA photo)

Students’ rocket to fly in NASA competition

A team of UC Davis students aims to fly their rocket exactly one mile high April 20 during NASA’s Student Launch Projects competition near Huntsville, Alabama. This is the first NASA Student Launch Projects 2013year the UC Davis SpaceED rocket team has taken part in the national competition.

The aim of the competition is to design, build and launch a rocket that can fly to an altitude of exactly one mile carrying a scientific payload, said team member Dan Berman, a fourth-year undergraduate majoring in mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering. Teams lose points for every foot of altitude above or below the one-mile mark.