Status Report

Astrobiology Graphic Novel – Issue #2

By SpaceRef Editor
May 7, 2011
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Astrobiology Graphic Novel – Issue #2

Cover art of the new astrobiology graphic novel. Image Credit: Aaron Gronstal

The second issue of the Astrobiology Graphic Novel is now available! Download the pdf or the mobile app! Issue #2 maintains the look and feel of the first issue, but this time the novel chronicles the history of our exploration of Mars.

Indeed, that exploration has been wrought with success and failure, and has witnessed a dramatic evolution in knowledge. The novel begins with speculations about the famous “irrigation canals” on Mars in the late 1800’s that were finally put to rest by images returned from NASA’s Mariner 4 mission in 1965.

In the 1970’s NASA’s Viking mission carried out life-detection experiments on the surface, but the results, indicating a lifeless planet, raised more questions than answers. The next two decades were met with struggle as several spacecraft from the US, Japan, Europe, and former USSR were lost. Success resurfaced in the late 1990’s with the ESA orbiter Mars Express and NASA’s Pathfinder rover, and Global Surveyor and Odyssey orbiters–heralding the mantra “Follow the Water.”

In 2004, NASA’s twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity began their work, which is still ongoing today. NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Phoenix lander followed. As data from these robotic explorers piled up, so did evidence that Mars preserves a record of surface liquid water and possibly habitable environments.

The novel concludes by highlighting NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, launching in late 2011 and arriving in August, 2012. It will carry an unprecedented suite of instruments that will bring us one step closer to determining if life ever started on Mars.

SpaceRef staff editor.