"You can think of DAN as a reconnaissance instrument." That's a quote from Igor Mitrofanov of the Space Research Institute, Russia, who is being deemed the "principal investigator" of the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons. Shortened to DAN for obvious reasons, this guy will soon be affixed to NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, with one primary purpose: to "check for any water that might be bound into shallow underground minerals along the rover's path." In total, ten instruments on Curiosity will be dedicated to investigating whether the area selected for the mission has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for life and favorable for preserving evidence about life. We're told that while in active mode, it's sensitive enough to detect water content as low as one-tenth of one percent in the ground beneath the rover, but there's still no indication of when it'll actually prove that Mars truly is the next major relocation hotspot. Something tells us Richard Branson will be ready, regardless.

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