Author Topic: A Week on Mars: Curiosity Rover Settles in for Long Martian Haul  (Read 802 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online Buster's Uncle

  • Upon the escalator I
  • Ascend
  • *
  • Posts: 47738
  • €394
  • View Inventory
  • Send /Gift
  • Because there are times when people just need a cute puppy  Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur  Someone thinks a Winrar is You!  
  • AC2 is my instrument, my heart, as I play my song.
  • Planet tales writer Smilie Artist Custom Faction Modder AC2 Wiki contributor Downloads Contributor
    • View Profile
    • My Custom Factions
    • Awards
A Week on Mars: Curiosity Rover Settles in for Long Martian Haul
By Mike Wall | – 4 hrs ago.. .

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity marks a full week on the Red Planet today (Aug. 13), and it's celebrating with a little rest and relaxation.
The 1-ton rover began beaming home photos and testing out its 10 science instruments almost immediately after its dramatic landing on Mars on the night of Aug. 5. But Curiosity is now in the middle of a four-day quiescent period, transitioning from landing software to programs optimized for surface operations.
The new software package "has a lot of great stuff that the science team wants, that the surface team wants, in order to enable this fantastic mission," Curiosity lead flight software engineer Ben Cichy, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., told reporters Friday (Aug. 10). "That's why we're willing to spend some time here doing the install."

A lot to be proud of
Though the $2.5 billion Curiosity has been on the Red Planet for just a few days, it already has a lot to be proud of. For starters, it exectued a daring and unprecedented landing pretty much flawlessly. [Amazing Mars Rover Curiosity Landing: Best Moments]
In the last phase of Curiosity's entry, descent and landing (EDL) sequence, a rocket-powered sky crane lowered the six-wheeled robot to the floor of Mars' Gale Crater on cables, then flew off and crash-landed intentionally about 2,000 feet (600 meters) away. Such a maneuver had never been tried before on another planet.

 Curiosity also employed a guided-entry system, enabling the rover to touch down much more precisely than any Red Planet robot had before. Preliminary analyses show that the rover missed its mark — dead center of its 4-by-12-mile (7 by 19 kilometer) landing ellipse — by just 1.5 miles or so (2.4 km), researchers said.
"Obviously, we had a great day on Mars on Sunday," said EDL operations lead Allen Chen of JPL.
And the rover's equipment is working very well on the surface so far, researchers said. Mission scientists and engineers have yet to encounter a major issue with any of Curiosity's 17 cameras or 10 science instruments.
That high-tech gear has already been put to use. Curiosity has sent lots of images back to its handlers, including footage of its harrowing descent and a color panorama of its landing site. And the rover's Radiation Assessment Detector instrument took a 3 1/2-hour measurement Wednesday (Aug. 8), gathering data that could help NASA plan for future manned missions to the Red Planet.

What to expect

Curiosity's software switch should wrap up by Tuesday (Aug. 14). The rover should then be ready to roam, flex its 7-foot (2.1 meters) robotic arm and really put its instruments through their paces.
But the mission team will take things slowly, vetting Curiosity for a few months to ensure that it's in tip-top shape. The $2.5 billion rover is the most complex and capable robotic explorer ever sent to another planet, NASA officials have said, so it's important to check it out thoroughly.
And there's no huge rush, researchers have stressed. Curiosity's prime mission is slated to last for nearly two Earth years, but the robot's plutonium power source could keep it roving for considerably longer than that if no key parts break down.

Curiosity's main goal is to determine if the Gale Crater area could ever have supported microbial life. It will investigate the rocks and soil of Gale and Mount Sharp — the mysterious 3-mile-high (5 km) mountain rising from the crater's center — to get at this question.
While it's still early days, all signs currently point to an interesting and rewarding mission, researchers say.
"With the spacecraft being as healthy as it is and the capability that it has, all our options are open for science," Curiosity chief scientist John Grotzinger, a geologist at Caltech in Pasadena, said Wednesday.


* User

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Select language:

* Community poll

SMAC v.4 SMAX v.2 (or previous versions)
23 (7%)
XP Compatibility patch
9 (3%)
Gog version for Windows
90 (30%)
Scient (unofficial) patch
38 (12%)
Kyrub's latest patch
14 (4%)
Yitzi's latest patch
87 (29%)
AC for Mac
2 (0%)
AC for Linux
6 (2%)
Gog version for Mac
10 (3%)
No patch
15 (5%)
Total Members Voted: 294
AC2 Wiki Logo
-click pic for wik-

* Random quote

I have often been asked: if we have traveled between the stars, why can we not launch the simplest of orbital probes? These fools fail to understand the difficulty of finding the appropriate materials on this Planet, of developing adequate power supplies, and creating the infrastructure necessary to support such an effort. In short, we have struggled under the limitations of a colonial society on a virgin planet. Until now.
~Col. Corazon Santiago 'Planet: A Survivalist's Guide'

* Select your theme