On August 3, the Curiosity rover landed on Mars, taking a photograph of a new planet called “Charon”.
The team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) used an optical camera to take the first image of the new planet, which is now named “Chorus”.
The image is of a planet with a radius of just 0.05 times that of Earth.
According to JPL, this new planet is called “New Chorus”.
Scientists say that the name of the planet means “the sun is shining in the distance”, and the word “chorus” comes from the Greek words “choros” and “chin”.
According to NASA, this is the first known example of a “solar system” composed of a body of water and an atmosphere, which could be the case of Chorus.
“Our first look at a planet called ‘Chorus’ has opened up a new chapter in our search for signs of life on other worlds,” said JPL’s lead scientist, Richard Cook.
The new planet was discovered by the robotic arm of the rover, called Curiosity, and is named after the Greek god of wisdom.
The first image shows what appears to be a rocky outcrop, but there are signs of other geological features as well.NASA said that the new world is about the size of Jupiter, but is thought to be the “first” of its kind.
Chorus is not the only planet to be found in the solar system.
Mars has also been found in its neighbourhood, and it is also known as “Churyumov-Gerasimenko”.
The researchers are currently studying the chemistry of the Martian surface and have been looking for clues about what could be buried there.
The images were taken by the instrument on the rover’s mast arm, which was set to capture the images as it passed by the new surface.NASA says that the discovery of a habitable planet is “a milestone in planetary science” that has opened a new window into the origins of life.
“Our mission is to look for signs that other planets could host life, and to make sure they do,” Cook said.
“This is our next great frontier.”
The mission will also enable scientists to search for more signs of alien life, such as water on Mars and the presence of a magnetic field.
The mission is scheduled to end in 2020.
Sources: Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera Africa