NASA will launch NuSTAR to search for black holes and Curiosity en route to Mars

By Amanda Shore

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is a spacecraft equipped with a high-energy X-ray telescope. Its mission is to map radioactive material in supernova remnants to study the origins of cosmic rays. It is able to find and photograph black holes so that scientists will know where they are and gather more data on them.

NuSTAR is scheduled to launch on June 13, 2012.

NASA has also been busy with Curiosity. This is the name of the Mars rover that was launched in November of 2011. This rover is scheduled to land on August 6, 2012. The landing zone has been moved to a mountainous zone. This could be a hazard to the mission, but it’s a risk that the scientists at NASA are willing to take. There, at Mount Sharp in the center of Gale Crater, Curiosity will gather samples for further study of our neighboring planet.

Unfortunately, there is teflon in Curiosity’s drill. This substance could contaminate the samples that Curiosity will be picking up. John Grotzinger, the lead scientist of the Curiosity project, said, “It’s not a serious problem because we see so many potential ways to work around this that we could use.” One such work-around is using the drill on a lower setting, which would decrease the amount of contaminants in the samples. Another is to abandon the drill altogether and just scoop for samples.

Scientists have two months to figure it out before Curiosity lands on the red planet, but matter what they do, the scientists are sure to make a new discovery with Curiosity on Mars.

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