Going to work on Mars time

August 24, 2012

The Mars rover Curiosity has been on the red planet for a little more than two weeks now. The robotic explorer started slowly moving from its landing site late last week. Several scientists from Arizona State University are on the research team. KJZZ’s Al Macias reports on what they have seen and hope to learn.

AL MACIAS: It has literally been an around-the-clock effort for the scientists. They are studying the climate and geology of Mars, and collecting data to see if microbial life  might have ever existed on the planet. Jack Farmer is a geologist from ASU’s School of Earth and Science Exploration. He says one of the adjustments researchers have had to make is rotating shifts based on a Martian day, which is 37 minutes longer than an Earth day.

JACK FARMER: You’re going ahead, bumping ahead 37 minutes every day on the Earth. So the bottom line is we are on this running clock, so at some time we are going to work at 3 a.m. and then some time in this nominal mission we’ll be going to work at 3 p.m.

MACIAS: Farmer says the first two weeks of the mission have been taken up with testing Curiosity’s equipment, and so far he says everything is going as planned. He is looking forward to getting the rover’s technological teeth into the Martian soil.
FARMER: Minerals will give you a general sense of the geology and geological history. Could there be new minerals that we don’t know about on Mars? That’s also possible because we’re still discovering mineral on the earth. There’s a comparable mineralogy on Mars to what we know about on earth and that makes it easier to understand.

MACIAS: Farmer says Curiosity was able to do a little exploring around the landing site where the retro rockets blew away the dust when the rover touched down. He says he is excited  about exploring further away from the site.

FARMER: It’s not hard to get up and go to work every day even if its on Mars time.