This is a question that NASA wants to find out. They are getting ready to launch a nuclear-powered rover to Mars to see if Mars is or ever were suitable to sustain life. The two point five billion dollar Mars Science Laboratory will be aboard an unmanned rocket called the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 scheduled to blast off Saturday around ten o’clock in the morning. The rover is the size of a compact car and it is set to begin its nine month journey to Mars.
This is the first mission since the Viking program in the 1970’s era to tackle this question about life on Mars. After the experiments with the twin Viking Landers in the 1970’s scientists concluded that life did not exist on the planet Mars but now years later NASA is embarking on a new strategy to find signs of water on Mars. This missions, according to NASA‘s prime contractor Lockheed Martin, this is one of the most complicated missions that they have ever attempted.
In 2004, there were two golf cart sized rovers that were sent to study Mars. Both of them landed on opposite sides of Mar’s equator and were to begin a three month mission. It grew to seven years with one of the rovers finally succumbing to the harsh winter in the past year. Both found in Mar’s past signs of water that mingled with rocks.
This newest rover is looking for other things that are necessary to sustain life on Mars such as organics.