NASA's "Curiosity" rover lands on a Marsian mountain with plans for a two year research effort on the planet. A rocket-powered sky crane lowered "Curiosity" to the surface with a de-celeration from 13,000 MPH to zero within the planned 7 minute time frame.
The ultimate objective of the mission is to determine whether or not Mars is or ever was suitable for hosting microbial life forms. 1) The cells of prokaryotes and eukaryotes have two common characteristics. That is, both have a plasma membrane and cytoplasma.
Prokaryotes have a simpler construction while the eukaryotes contain a nucleus. Scientists would be looking initially for prokaryotes in the form of bacteria and cyanobacteria; such as, blue green algae. Next in the life chain are the eukaryotes consisting of protozoa, fungi, plants and lastly animals.
The Marsian atmosphere is 95% carbon dioxide, nearly 3% oxygen 2% argon , with trace quantities of oxygen, carbon monoxide, water vapor and ozone. The density of Mars is about 25-30 % less than planet Earth.
For Mars to sustain life-particularly human life, scientists would be required to construct a geodome concept with extensive tree planting to maintain a viable oxygen/CO2 cycle together with existing water harnessed from the polar caps. Sunlight would be problematic because the planet gets approximately half of the natural sunlight of earth.
NASA believes that the volume of water ice in the south polar ice cap, if melted, would cover the entire planet surface at a depth of 10m. If this volume of water is determined to be present on Mars, then the next step would be to harness the water for purposes of sustaining life in the not too distant future. In addition, the atmosphere of Mars is less dense. As a result, there will be less stress on human internal organs.
Another important task for NASA and its rover is to monitor the daily weather patterns on Mars and develop good data on the atmospheric conditions on the planet. Next, Nasa needs to measure wind shear and other atmospheric effects. Another important task is the monitoring of water vapor and dust on the planet. Enhanced phase diagrams need to be constructed for thermodynamic properties relating to solids, liquids, gases and vapors. With a virtual power source like fusion, Mars can become an important interplanetary manufacturing center.