by A21 Reporter Andy Clems
The latest Zero-X mission to Mars has resulted in a truly historic find – the long lost Curiosity Rover, originally launched by the old NASA agency in the year 2011.
Curiosity’s original mission was much the same as Zero-X’s (albeit on a smaller scale) – to investigate the Red Planet’s geology and climate to allow study for potential human colonization. The rover proved so resilient and suited to its assignment that the planned 2 year mission was extended indefinitely. The prolonged mission yielded remarkable facts about Mars and its history, paving the way for even more ambitious missions in the early and mid 21st century.
The Curiosity eventually ceased operation in late 2031, almost twenty years to the day since it was launched from Cape Kennedy (then known as Cape Canaveral). It was anticipated that later rovers would confirm the status of Curiosity on subsequent missions. However, when the Mars X-51 rover explored the vicinity of Curiosity’s final recorded position, it found no trace of the vehicle.
The mystery, famously referred to by MX-51 Mission Director Trice as “The Curious Case of the Missing Rover”, has baffled experts for years. One possible explanation put forth in recent months is the interference of an outside agency such as the Mysterons or the Rock Snakes. These theories have been dismissed as “fanciful” by members of the EUROSEC Mars Habitation Initiative.
One representative, Senior Coordinator Pilson-Wood asked “What possible reason could the Mysterons have for interfering with an outdated and inoperable research rover? In addition, there has never been any indication of Rock Snake formations in that area, and I find the suggestion that such creatures could pilfer the craft to be improbable at best.”
Captain Paul Travers, leader of the recent Zero-X mission described the find as historic. “It felt like we had just found the answer to one of the great mysteries of the solar system, or at any rate the beginning of an answer! We were conducting research in another area and started picking up a faint trace on our Geiger counter, barely registering, but then the MEVs sensors are far more finely tuned than comparable equipment on Earth. We had to dig down maybe six or seven feet before we uncovered the first part of the craft. The Geiger trace turned out to be from the Curiosity’s radioisotope pellet, part of the old thermoelectric generator set up they used back then.”
The Curiosity will be returned to Earth later this month and will take pride of place in the new ‘Marvel of the Age’ collection at the World History Pavilion in Unity City.