Curiosity rover has landed on Mars

A) Curiosity will trundle around its landing site looking for interesting rock features to study. Its top speed is about 4cm/s

B) This mission has 17 cameras. They will identify particular targets, and a laser will zap those rocks to probe their chemistry

C) If the signal is significant, Curiosity will swing over instruments on its arm for close-up investigation. These include a microscope

D) Samples drilled from rock, or scooped from the soil, can be delivered to two hi-tech analysis labs inside the rover body

(E) The results are sent to Earth through antennas on the rover deck. Return commands tell the rover where it should drive next

Curiosity Rover First Image of Mars Landing 6th August 2012

  • Mission goal is to determine whether Mars has ever had the conditions to support life
  • Project costed at $2.5bn; will see initial surface operations lasting two Earth years
  • Onboard plutonium generators will deliver heat and electricity for at least 14 years
  • 75kg science payload more than 10 times as massive as those of earlier US Mars rovers
  • Equipped with tools to brush and drill into rocks, to scoop up, sort and sieve samples
  • Variety of analytical techniques to discern chemistry in rocks, soil and atmosphere
  • Will try to make first definitive identification of organic (carbon rich) compounds
  • Even carries a laser to zap rocks; beam will identify atomic elements in rocks

H/t NASA /Jonathan Amos

Discovery programme on Curiosity from JPL on the BBC World Service at 19:30 BST, Monday.

The Mars Science Laboratory mission has four scientific goals:

  1. Determine whether Mars could ever have supported life.
  2. Study the climate of Mars.
  3. Study the geology of Mars.
  4. Plan for a human mission to Mars.

I made this comment at the beeb. (Pretend you didn’t see my iconoclastic blunder vis-à-vis Ireland’s very own recently deceased Maeve Binchy. It was my first time commenting at the BBC. One learns every day in literacy education the errors of one’s lingo. I really like it when they’re pointed out, though not in a condescending sneering way. A real learning curve.)

Absolutely amazing! Thanks for very detailed coverage, it helps one enormously to grasp what is going on exactly with Curiosity Rover on the red soil of Mars.

Very diverse, but interesting comments to be had at the beeb.

Jerry Coyne has good live “blogging” on Mars rover on the way

I also made a comment over at OB’s abode

The image was taken May 26, 2011, in Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The rover was shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on June 22, 2011. The mission is scheduled to launch during the period Nov. 25 to Dec. 18, 2011, and land the rover Curiosity on Mars in August 2012. Researchers will use tools on Curiosity to study whether the landing region has had environmental conditions favorable for supporting microbial life and for preserving clues about whether life existed.

Concept for NASA Design Reference Mission Architecture 5.0 (2009)

There are several key challenges that a human mission to Mars must overcome:

  1. physical effects of exposure to high-energy cosmic rays and other ionizing radiation.[2][3]
  2. physical effects of a prolonged low-gravity environment, including eyesight loss.[4][5][6]
  3. physical effects of a prolonged low-light environment.
  4. psychological effects of isolation from Earth.
  5. psychological effects of lack of community due to lack of real-time connections with Earth.
  6. social effects of several humans living under crowded conditions for over one Earth year.
  7. inaccessibility of terrestrial medical facilities.

Read hère to find out about manned missions to Mars

FIVE THINGS about Mars:

About the colour: It’s called the Red Planet because the landscape is stained rusty-red by the iron-rich dust.

Quick weight loss: Its gravity is only 38 percent that of Earth. So if you weigh 150 pounds on Earth, you would weigh 57 pounds on Mars.

Hot and cold: Mars’ temperatures can range from 80 degrees at its equator to minus 199 degrees at its poles.

The air is different: Mars’ atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide with traces of nitrogen and argon. Earth’s atmosphere is a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen and other gases.

Longer days: They last 39.5 minutes longer than a day on Earth.

Read here and at seattletimes.nwsource.com

NASA.com Mars Science Laboratory website

Zingularity: Curiosity’s mission Awesome pic of Curiosity descending

Zingularity: Mars Curiosity: Countdown!

The view from Curious Rover and The simple and sheer amazingness over at OB’s den

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