Mars landing has left us with a sense of ‘curiosity’
There’s still a fixation on exploring Mars and sometime in the future it is very possible that a man will set face on this planet and find out is martians exist. The United States has led the way in exploring Mars by landing rovers on Mars. The newest visitor to Mars is a U.S. rover named Curiosity.
Curiosity landed on Mars on Mars on Aug. 6. Since that time, Curiosity has been doing an extended “stretch” of sorts — unfolding its limbs, testing its cameras and sending reassuring notes back to Earth. Curiosity is a robotic space probe mission to Mars launched by NASA on Nov. 26, 2011.
In the coming days, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge will test the rover’s steering actuators. Then Curiosity is to take its first few “steps” — driving perhaps a few feet before turning around and surveying the spot where it landed.
To lock in with some comprehensive and accurate information on the Mars mission of Curiosity, go to the NASA website at http://www.nasa.gov/
For more history on the Mars rover mission, check out the Wikipedia site at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Science_Laboratory
We read: “The overall objectives include investigating Mars’ habitability, studying its climate and geology, and collecting data for a manned mission to Mars. The rover carries a variety of scientific instruments designed by an international team.
“Curiosity is about twice as long and five times as heavy as the Spirit and Opportunity Mars exploration rover payloads of earlier U.S. Mars missions, and carries over ten times the mass of scientific instruments. MSL successfully carried out a more accurate landing than previous spacecraft to Mars, aiming for a small target landing ellipse of only 7 by 20 km (4.3 by 12 mi), in the Aeolis Palus region of Gale Crater.
“In the event, the Mars Science Laboratory achieved a landing only 2.4 kilometres (1.5 mi) from the center of the target. This location is near the mountain Aeolis Mons (a.k.a. “Mount Sharp”). The rover mission is set to explore for at least 687 Earth days (1 Martian year) over a range of 5 by 20 km (3.1 by 12 mi). NASA anticipates that the rover will function for at least the limit the parts were tested for, which is four years.
“The Mars Science Laboratory mission is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort for the robotic exploration of Mars that is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of California Institute of Technology. The total cost of the MSL project is about $2.5 billion. Previous successful Mars rovers include the Spirit and Opportunity, and the Sojourner rover from the Mars Pathfinder mission.
“The MSL mission has four scientific goals: 1) Determine the landing site’s habitability including 2) the role of water, 3) the study of the climate and 4)the geology of Mars. It is also useful preparation for a future manned mission to Mars.
“To contribute to these goals, MSL has six main scientific objectives:
1) Determine the mineralogical composition of the Martian surface and near-surface geological materials.
2) Attempt to detect chemical building blocks of life (biosignatures).
3) Interpret the processes that have formed and modified rocks and soils.
4) Assess long-timescale (i.e., 4-billion-year) Martian atmospheric evolution processes.
5) Determine present state, distribution, and cycling of water and carbon dioxide.
6) Characterize the broad spectrum of surface radiation, including galactic radiation, cosmic radiation, solar proton events and secondary neutrons.
“As part of its exploration, it also measured the radiation exposure in the interior of the spacecraft as it traveled to Mars, and it is continuing radiation measurements as it explores the surface of Mars. This data would be important for a future manned mission.”
NASA website provides update on color images
Let’s go back to the NASA site on Curiosity and learn the following from this written account on the website.
NASA’s Curiosity rover has shipped back to Earth high-resolution color images of its surroundings on Mars, sharpening our views of an intriguing channel, layered buttes and a layer of cobbles and pebbles embedded in a finer matrix of material. The images show a landscape closely resembling portions of the southwestern United States, adding to the impression gained from the lower-resolution thumbnail images released earlier this week.
The 79 images that went into the large mosaics were taken on Aug. 8, 2012 PDT (Aug. 9, EDT) by Curiosity’s 34-millimeter Mastcam. The black areas indicate high-resolution images not yet returned by the rover.
The full-resolution images are available at: http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/images/ .
Curiosity sent lower-resolution versions of these images earlier in the week. The latest versions, sent while Curiosity was undergoing a software “brain transplant” and pausing in its acquisition of new science data, are 1,200 by 1,200 pixels.
In one version of the large mosaic, the colors portrayed are unmodified from those returned by the camera. The view is what a cell phone or camcorder would record, since the Mastcam takes color pictures in the exact same manner that consumer cameras acquire color images. The second version shows the colors modified as if the scene were transported to Earth and illuminated by terrestrial sunlight. This processing, called “white balancing,“ is useful for scientists to be able to recognize and distinguish rocks by their color in more familiar lighting.
Smaller mosaics of some of the areas most interesting to science team members are also available. One shows a section on the crater wall north of the landing site, where a network of valleys believed to have formed by water erosion enters Gale Crater from the outside. This is the first view scientists have had of a fluvial system – one relating to a river or stream – from the surface of Mars.
Curiosity continues to be very healthy, with all instruments and engineering subsystems operating as planned. There are no science or instrument activities planned on Sol 5. Two weeks ago, the new flight software, which is optimized for surface operations, was tested for the first time and successfully executed all planned Sol 5 rover activities. The test demonstrated that the new software is ready to support the upcoming surface operations mission phase.