Feb 23, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Curiosity Rover Gets Its Own Special—Discovery Channel Tonight

Dec 18, 2014 02:08 PM EST

Earlier this week, NASA announced that its Mars Curiosity Rover may have found some essential building blocks of life, and now they're saying that viewers on Earth will have a chance to watch the discovery process for themselves. Premiering tonight, Dec. 18, the Discovery Channel will chronicle the Curiosity Rover's long trek across the Red Planet fourth from our sun, giving viewers here on Earth a never-before-seen perspective from the surface of Mars.

Over nearly two years, NASA's Curiosity Rover has been on a mission seeking out life on every surface of Mars, from the soil to the atmosphere. And while the search has always turned up the disappointing fact that life is not currently sustained on Mars, Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Laboratory, onboard of the small rover, has been able to sniff around in a different way than with the scientific eye. Utilizing gas chromatography, tunable laser spectrometry and an accurate mass spectrometer, the SAM Laboratory has found that while Mars' atmosphere may be thin, there may be additional organic molecules present in dense areas across the vast planet. According to data, four times, the rover's laboratory sensed large spikes in the methane content of the atmosphere-more than ten times that of baseline data. Published this week in the journal Science, NASA researchers say that while the data is significant and may lead scientists to finding life on Mars, that results are at this time inconclusive and could be attributed to early water's interactions with the surface rocks.

"We will keep working on the puzzles these findings present" Curiosity project scientist at Cal Tech, John Grotzinger says. "Can we learn more about the active chemistry causing such fluctuations in the amount of methane in the atmosphere? Can we choose rock targets where identifiable organics have been preserved?"

Tonight, the Discovery Channel documentary "Red Planet Rover" will follow Curiosity's exploratory mission in the Gale Crater, and the analysis of Mars' atmosphere that led to recent discovery. Casting a spotlight onto the presence of organic matter on and within Mars, "Red Planet Rover" will seek to give viewers not only a view of NASA's extensive research, but also lend a better explanation as to the plausible likelihood of life on Mars.

"Viewers will get access unlike anything else seen before" spokespersons from Discovery Channel say. "[Together we will] take an incredible ride with the smartest, most complex robot ever launched from Earth-a one-ton, nuclear powered, all-terrain vehicle, part geologist, part chemist, part photographer."

Check your local listings for times and channels, and explore bonus material online:

http://www.discovery.com

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