Russian neutron detector DAN will travel to Mars aboard NASA’s Mars rover “Curiosity” and tell scientists about hydrological processes, which had taken place on the Red planet, and water content changes on a geological timescale.
Researchers chose between 30 possible landing sites for the rover, which mission is scheduled for November 2011, and finally decided to land in Hale Crater. Hale Crater, named after Walter Hale, an Australian banker and amateur astronomer, is located southwards from the Martian equator. The crater with diameter of about 150 kilometers harbours a 5-km mountain, made of sedimentary rocks.
The DAN (Detector of Albedo Neutron) device will send beams of high-energy neutrons to Martian surface and use secondary neutrons for calculating hydrogen content. Territories with high hydrogen content tend to absorb neutrons, thus indicating possible presence of water or hydrated materials.
Most scientists believe that about 4 billion years ago Martian climate was warm and damp with large amount of liquid water on the planet’s surface. DAN device is able to detect sediments, characteristic for this kind of weather.
Source: RIA Novosti
Author: Anna Kizilova