Canada extends its participation in the Mars Science Laboratory mission

Curiosity selfie taken at Okoruso Drill Hole, Mars

Curiosity selfie taken at Okoruso Drill Hole, Mars (Credit: NASA)

After four years of exploring the surface of Mars, the Curiosity Rover (centrepiece of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission) is still climbing up Mount Sharp. During this time, Canada has been an integral part of this mission with the Canadian-built Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS). APXS, on Curiosity, is being used on a regular basis to collect key information about the rocks and soil of the red planet. The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is pleased to announce its continued participation in the mission by funding APXS for two additional years.

Since August 2012, Curiosity has travelled more than 16 km on the Martian surface, and APXS has analyzed over 450 samples. As the rover works its way up the mount, APXS will be looking at younger rocks to get a deeper understanding of how Mars's environment has changed over time.

The MSL mission marks the first time Canada has investigated the surface of Mars, and the second time we have landed on the red planet (the first being the Phoenix Mars Lander mission in 2008, during which the Canadian weather station discovered snow falling in the atmosphere of Mars).

The CSA is an international partner on the MSL mission, led by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Dr. Ralf Gellert of the University of Guelph is the Principal Investigator for APXS. The CSA is also supporting a team of four Canadian scientists through various grants.