Nov 10, 2011

All About Curiosity, the Martian Rover


Curiosity is a Martian rover part of NASA's MSL(Mars Science Laboratory ) mission.
The mission's target launch date is November 25th. Its planned mission on Mars is 668 sols,(a "sol" is like a day on Mars-the time it takes for the planet to rotate once) or 1 martian year.The white mini cooper-sized rover is 3 meters long(10 ft) and weighs 900 kilograms. compare that to Spirit and Opportunity, which are 1.5meters(5 ft) long and weigh 174 kilograms. Twice as long, 5 times heavy. Well enough with the data, lets see what's the same and what's not with the other martian rovers.


    mars rover curiosity

1. It is nuclear powered. The former rovers Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity were solar powered.   But the problem was that solar power is not so efficient.   Also, the watts drop spectacularly when there's dust on the solar panels,  and it can't even operate at night.  These are the reasons why Curiosity is powered by nuclear energy. RTG(Radioactive Thermoelectric Generators), in fact. They have a minimum life span of 14 years, so as long as the hardware doesn't break then it'll work for at least 14 years.


2. It takes HD video. Up till now, we only had spectacular, but still, unmoving pictures of the Red Planet. But there's a camera on Curiosity that takes 720p, 10fps videos. Can't wait to see how it'll turn up.


3.It shoots lasers. No, nothing like Star Wars. To analyse the "ingredients" of a rock, the MSL can shoot lasers to vaporize a bit of it and then collect the spectrum of the light emitted. This lets us look at the rock's elements without even touching it.


4. It  shoots alpha rays, too. Again, this is for analyzing rocks.


5. It will touch down on its wheels. After deaccererating with parachutes, the Curiosity rover pops out, hung off by a "sky crane", and will guide the rover to a "gentle" landing. This method has never been tried before. You've gotta see the video to believe it.
I think this is a bit risky maneuver, because if anything goes wrong during descent, the MSL mission will probably  meet its early end. So thumbs crossed on the landing. It will happen sometime during August 6th and the 20th, 2012.

2 comments:

  1. I really like this blog. Lots of detail and enthusiasm! Thanks for being as interested in Mars as I am!

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  2. thanks for visiting! yes, I think Mars has a lot of potential for future explorations. heck, we might even live there one day!! :)

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