Author Topic: Mars Rover Curiosity  (Read 70321 times)

BridgeTroll

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Mars Rover Curiosity
« on: August 06, 2012, 07:52:10 AM »
http://apnews.myway.com/article/20120806/DA0FQ2R00.html

Quote
Touchdown: NASA rover Curiosity lands on Mars
 
Aug 6, 6:50 AM (ET)

By ALICIA CHANG
 
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - In a show of technological wizardry, the robotic explorer Curiosity blazed through the pink skies of Mars, steering itself to a gentle landing inside a giant crater for the most ambitious dig yet into the red planet's past.

Cheers and applause echoed through the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory late Sunday after the most high-tech interplanetary rover ever built signaled it had survived a harrowing plunge through the thin Mars atmosphere.

"Touchdown confirmed," said engineer Allen Chen. "We're safe on Mars."

Minutes after the landing signal reached Earth at 10:32 p.m. PDT, Curiosity beamed back the first black-and-white pictures from inside the crater showing its wheel and its shadow, cast by the afternoon sun.

"We landed in a nice flat spot. Beautiful, really beautiful," said engineer Adam Steltzner, who led the team that devised the tricky landing routine.

It was NASA's seventh landing on Earth's neighbor; many other attempts by the U.S. and other countries to zip past, circle or set down on Mars have gone awry.

The arrival was an engineering tour de force, debuting never-before-tried acrobatics packed into "seven minutes of terror" as Curiosity sliced through the Martian atmosphere at 13,000 mph.

In a Hollywood-style finish, cables delicately lowered the rover to the ground at a snail-paced 2 mph. A video camera was set to capture the most dramatic moments - which would give Earthlings their first glimpse of a touchdown on another world.

Celebrations by the mission team were so joyous over the next hour that JPL Director Charles Elachi had to plead for calm in order to hold a post-landing press conference. He compared the team to athletic teams that participate in the Olympics.

"This team came back with the gold," he said.

The extraterrestrial feat injected a much-needed boost to NASA, which is debating whether it can afford another robotic Mars landing this decade. At a budget-busting $2.5 billion, Curiosity is the priciest gamble yet, which scientists hope will pay off with a bonanza of discoveries and pave the way for astronaut landings.

"The wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars," said NASA chief Charles Bolden.

President Barack Obama lauded the landing in a statement, calling it "an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future."

Over the next two years, Curiosity will drive over to a mountain rising from the crater floor, poke into rocks and scoop up rust-tinted soil to see if the region ever had the right environment for microscopic organisms to thrive. It's the latest chapter in the long-running quest to find out whether primitive life arose early in the planet's history.

The voyage to Mars took more than eight months and spanned 352 million miles. The trickiest part of the journey? The landing. Because Curiosity weighs nearly a ton, engineers drummed up a new and more controlled way to set the rover down. The last Mars rovers, twins Spirit and Opportunity, were cocooned in air bags and bounced to a stop in 2004.

Curiosity relied on a series of braking tricks, similar to those used by the space shuttle, a heat shield and a supersonic parachute to slow down as it punched through the atmosphere.

And in a new twist, engineers came up with a way to lower the rover by cable from a hovering rocket-powered backpack. At touchdown, the cords cut and the rocket stage crashed a distance away.

The nuclear-powered Curiosity, the size of a small car, is packed with scientific tools, cameras and a weather station. It sports a robotic arm with a power drill, a laser that can zap distant rocks, a chemistry lab to sniff for the chemical building blocks of life and a detector to measure dangerous radiation on the surface.

It also tracked radiation levels during the journey to help NASA better understand the risks astronauts could face on a future manned trip.
 
Over the next several days, Curiosity is expected to send back the first color pictures. After several weeks of health checkups, the six-wheel rover could take its first short drive and flex its robotic arm.

The landing site near Mars' equator was picked because there are signs of past water everywhere, meeting one of the requirements for life as we know it. Inside Gale Crater is a 3-mile-high mountain, and images from space show the base appears rich in minerals that formed in the presence of water.

Previous trips to Mars have uncovered ice near the Martian north pole and evidence that water once flowed when the planet was wetter and toastier unlike today's harsh, frigid desert environment.

Curiosity's goal: to scour for basic ingredients essential for life including carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, sulfur and oxygen. It's not equipped to search for living or fossil microorganisms. To get a definitive answer, a future mission needs to fly Martian rocks and soil back to Earth to be examined by powerful laboratories.

The mission comes as NASA retools its Mars exploration strategy. Faced with tough economic times, the space agency pulled out of partnership with the European Space Agency to land a rock-collecting rover in 2018. The Europeans have since teamed with the Russians as NASA decides on a new roadmap.

Despite Mars' reputation as a spacecraft graveyard, humans continue their love affair with the planet, lobbing spacecraft in search of clues about its early history. Out of more than three dozen attempts - flybys, orbiters and landings - by the U.S., Soviet Union, Europe and Japan since the 1960s, more than half have ended disastrously.

One NASA rover that defied expectations is Opportunity, which is still busy wheeling around the rim of a crater in the Martian southern hemisphere eight years later.

---

Mars mission: http://www.nasa.gov/msl

---

Follow Alicia Chang's Mars coverage at: http://www.twitter.com/SciWriAlicia


In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2012, 07:56:03 AM »
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/news/msl20120805c.html

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NASA Lands Car-Size Rover Beside Martian Mountain

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's most advanced Mars rover Curiosity has landed on the Red Planet. The one-ton rover, hanging by ropes from a rocket backpack, touched down onto Mars Sunday to end a 36-week flight and begin a two-year investigation.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft that carried Curiosity succeeded in every step of the most complex landing ever attempted on Mars, including the final severing of the bridle cords and flyaway maneuver of the rocket backpack.

"Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars. Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars -- or if the planet can sustain life in the future," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "This is an amazing achievement, made possible by a team of scientists and engineers from around the world and led by the extraordinary men and women of NASA and our Jet Propulsion Laboratory. President Obama has laid out a bold vision for sending humans to Mars in the mid-2030's, and today's landing marks a significant step toward achieving this goal."

Curiosity landed at 10:32 p.m. Aug. 5, PDT, (1:32 a.m. EDT Aug. 6) near the foot of a mountain three miles tall and 96 miles in diameter inside Gale Crater. During a nearly two-year prime mission, the rover will investigate whether the region ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life.

"The Seven Minutes of Terror has turned into the Seven Minutes of Triumph," said NASA Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld. "My immense joy in the success of this mission is matched only by overwhelming pride I feel for the women and men of the mission's team."

Curiosity returned its first view of Mars, a wide-angle scene of rocky ground near the front of the rover. More images are anticipated in the next several days as the mission blends observations of the landing site with activities to configure the rover for work and check the performance of its instruments and mechanisms.

"Our Curiosity is talking to us from the surface of Mars," said MSL Project Manager Peter Theisinger of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The landing takes us past the most hazardous moments for this project, and begins a new and exciting mission to pursue its scientific objectives."

Confirmation of Curiosity's successful landing came in communications relayed by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter and received by the Canberra, Australia, antenna station of NASA's Deep Space Network.

Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools are the first of their kind on Mars, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking elemental composition of rocks from a distance. The rover will use a drill and scoop at the end of its robotic arm to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into analytical laboratory instruments inside the rover.

To handle this science toolkit, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit or Opportunity. The Gale Crater landing site places the rover within driving distance of layers of the crater's interior mountain. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history.

The mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

For more information on the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mars and http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl .

Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity And http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .

  Guy Webster / D.C. Agle 818-354-6278 / 818-393-9011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov / agle@jpl.nasa.gov

Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2012, 10:44:58 AM »
Rover landed here...

In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

Jason

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2012, 10:56:31 AM »
That is freakin awesome!!!  I was really worried that this thing wouldn't make it.  Kudos to all involved!

Now lets see some pictures

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2012, 11:20:04 AM »
That is freakin awesome!!!  I was really worried that this thing wouldn't make it.  Kudos to all involved!

Now lets see some pictures

Me too... the complexity of this landing was far greater than any before it.  NASA said it may be a few days to reconfigure the craft into "rover mode" and test all systems but we should start seeing more pix shortly...  Dont forget... rover Opportunity is still roving and taking pix every day!
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2012, 11:37:52 AM »
I was sure that something that complicated would fail.  Just fantastic that it did not.
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BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2012, 01:46:37 PM »
Wow... photos of the descent...



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New Image Shows Mars Rover Curiosity Parachuting Toward Perfect Landing

PASADENA, Calif. -- As the Mars rover Curiosity plummeted toward its landing on Mars last night, NASA's orbiters, the storied Odyssey orbiter and Reconnaissance Orbiter, were sailing overhead and watching its progress. In an incredible feat of photography on another planet, MRO's HiRISE camera captured this image of the spacecraft on the parachute.
 
You can see the fully unfurled chute, which was capable of sustaining Mach 2.2 speeds, complete with the small hole at its top. The white area on the spacecraft is the Mars Science Laboratory's backshell, holding the Curiosity rover tucked inside. NASA managers were unsure as of 10 a.m. Pacific time Monday whether the heat shield is still attached in this image.

Capturing a snapshot of Curiosity's "seven minutes of terror" is really something -- MRO had to be in the right place at the right time, which itself was a feat of orbital mechanics.

Sarah Milkovich of the MRO team told a morning news conference that the orbiter was about 340 kilometers (211 miles) from the falling spacecraft when it took this image. It was almost directly overhead, at a slight angle.

We're waiting on lots of additional pictures later today from MRO, including potential images of Curiosity's sky crane descent stage, which safely crashed a few hundred meters from the rover.

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-08/new-image-shows-mars-roer-curiosity-parachuting-toward-perfect-landing
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

Jason

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2012, 02:30:36 PM »
That parachute must have been massive.

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2012, 06:56:56 AM »
http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1292


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STATUS REPORT
08.06.2012
Curiosity's Daily Update: Curiosity Safely on Mars! Health Checks Begin

Aug. 6: Curiosity Safely on Mars! Health Checks Begin
With Curiosity now safely on the surface of the Red Planet after last night's spectacular entry, descent and landing in Gale Crater, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory begins its planned primary one-Martian-year (98-week) mission of discovery and exploration.

On its first Martian day, designated Sol 0, the rover is checking its health and measuring its tilt. All Sol 0 spacecraft activities appear to have been completely nominal. These include firing all of Curiosity's pyrotechnic devices for releasing post-landing deployments. Spring-loaded deployments, such as removal of dust covers from the Hazard-Avoidance cameras (Hazcams) occur immediately when pyros are fired. Curiosity also took images with its front and rear Hazcams both before and after removal of the dust covers, checked out its UHF telecommunications system and rover motor controller assembly, and completed all activities required to proceed with its planned activities on Sol 1. Approximately five megabytes of data were successfully relayed back to Earth from NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft during its overpass today.

Curiosity landed facing east-southeast within Gale Crater, with a heading of 112.7 degrees (plus or minus five degrees), and a few degrees of tilt. A Sol 1 overpass by Mars Odyssey will provide additional information on Curiosity's position and additional imagery. A first look at some color images taken just before landing by MSL's Mars Descent Imager also provided additonal information on the rover's precise location.

Activities planned for Sol 1 during the mission's approximately one-month characterization activity phase include deploying Curiosity's high-gain antenna, collecting science data from Curiosity's Radiation Assessment Detector and Rover Environmental Monitoring Station instruments, and obtaining additional imagery. The mission's characterization activity phase is design to learn how all Curiosity's subsystems and instruments are functioning after landing and within the environment and gravitational field of Mars.

 
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2012, 08:18:34 AM »

The newest robotic resident of Mars, Curiosity, has sent a spectacular image of its main scientific target, Mt. Sharp, a three-mile-high mountain in the center of Gale crater.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/08/curiositys-mt-sharp/

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2012, 08:42:28 AM »
Cool!  This was taken with a pretty low res camera... In the coming days the Hi res cameras will provide spectacular vistas!
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2012, 09:52:05 AM »
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/UcGMDXy-Y1I" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/UcGMDXy-Y1I</a>

In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

Jason

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2012, 10:28:08 AM »
After seeing the black & white image I was waiting for a deceptacon to walk into view and squash the rover.

Very eerie picture

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2012, 10:47:02 AM »
The Martians probably think the rover is a deceptacon.
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TheCat

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2012, 11:15:09 AM »