Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 11:09 am
Durians for sale at a Singapore market.
Credit momovieman / Flickr.com
To lovers of the world's most odoriferous fruit, something doesn't smell right in Thailand's durian country, where a fruit breeder with the Horticulture Research Institute is in the midst of creating a line of durian varieties that lacks what some say is the most intriguing aspect of this large and spiky, creamy-fleshed tree fruit — its smell.
An artist's rendering shows a rocket-powered descent stage lowering the one-ton Curiosity rover to the Mars surface.
The best place to stand in the entire solar system at 1:14 a.m. ET Monday was about 150 million miles away, at the bottom of Gale Crater near the equator of the Red Planet.
Looking west around mid-afternoon local time, a Martian bystander would have seen a rocket-powered alien spacecraft approach and then hover about 60 feet over the rock-strewn plain between the crater walls and the towering slopes of nearby Mount Sharp.
One of the things the Mars rover will look for is organic molecules that could at least indicate whether there was once life on the Red Planet. But if searching for life in outer space is the goal, many scientists now say we might have better luck elsewhere — specifically one of Saturn's moons, Enceladus.
NPR's Joe Palca will be at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California to monitor the Mars mission landing Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. PDT. Palca talks with guest host Linda Wertheimer about the Mars landing and purpose of the mission.
Mmm, nice rock! This rover's looking for secrets to the history of life on Mars.
Credit Photo Illustration Courtesy NASA
NASA has sent rovers to explore Mars before. But three words explain what makes this latest mission to Mars so different: location, location, location.
The rover Curiosity is slated to land late Sunday in Gale Crater, near the base of a 3-mile-high mountain with layers like the Grand Canyon. Scientists think those rocks could harbor secrets about the history of water — and life — on the Red Planet.