TU Professor Studying Mars Rover Findings

Thursday, September 20th 2012, 5:40 pm
By: News On 6

A University of Tulsa professor has turned his attention to Mars, since, he said, it could provide clues to how the Earth was formed.

The Curiosity rover, a small SUV-sized robot landed on Mars on August 6.

Dr. Peter Michael is a professor of Geosciences at the University of Tulsa.

While he spends most of his time studying the ocean and geologic formations on Earth, his focus for the last month-and-a-half has been the amazing pictures sent from Mars by Curiosity.

"It's amazing. It's like trying to put a geologist on a planet," Michael said.

Curiosity has cameras, lasers, even an arm and hand to collect rocks.

Its mission is to search the red planet for any signs of life.

NASA and the Jet Propulsion Lab provide its pictures and data for anyone to look at and study.

Michael said he goes over the pictures every day.

"I ask myself what has taken place or what clues do I have to what takes place on planet Mars," Michael said.

Michael said, because the rocks on Mars are about 4 billion years old and the rocks here on Earth are much younger, about 300 million years old, Mars can teach us about the early history of Earth.

Mars is finished developing, and everything Curiosity finds could hold a potential clue as to how our mountains were formed or what could be the future of our oceans.

"Eventually, I would say that what we're learning about Mars, we will be able to use to help, maybe not our generation, but future generations," Michael said.

He said a scientific expedition like Curiosity is what the human race is all about: Exploration, discovery, and reaching for the unknown.

"The name of the spacecraft tells the story," Michael said. "The name of the spacecraft is Curiosity. Human beings ask questions, it's what makes us advanced as a species, is our curiosity."