Laying the Groundwork for Curiosity's DAN
The heritage for investigations with the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons instrument on NASA's Curiosity rover comes from NASA's Odyssey orbiter. The orbiter has performed global mapping of neutrons, showing varying degrees of hydrogen in the Martian soil as indicated on this chart. The hydrogen is an indicator of the presence of water.
Now, Curiosity will continue this research on the ground at Gale Crater. In addition to using neutrons that are produced by galactic cosmic rays, as was the case with Odyssey, the DAN can generate pulses of neutrons on its own. This will contribute to more efficient studies of water-bearing minerals along Curiosity's path through Gale Crater.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Russian Space Research Institute