Far Away From The Earth: All About The Mars Curiosity(Rover)

Nov. 26, 2017, 3:49 a.m. By: Kirti

Mars Curiosity

Curiosity that was launched on November 26 in the year 2011from Cape Canaveral at 15:02 UTC aboard the MSL spacecraft and landed on on August 6 in the year 2012 at 05:17 UTC on the Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on Mars, is a car-sized rover that was designed for the exploration of the Gale Crater on Mars as part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL). From the center of the rover's touchdown target after a 560 million km that is 350 million mi journey the Bradbury Landing site was less than 2.4 km or 1.5 mi. Curiosity, is known as the most ambitious Mars mission that has been yet flown by NASA.

The goals of the rover mainly included an investigation of the Martian geology and climate; an assessment of whether inside Gale Crater the selected field site has ever offered environmental conditions that were favorable for microbial life, including investigation of the role of water on the planet; and planetary habitability that included study in the preparation for exploration by human.

"The main fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported an environment that is habitable," stated Michael Meyer, who is a lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program. "From what we know now, the answer is yes."

In the year 2012, the two-year mission of Curiosity's was then extended indefinitely and soon after this On August 5 in the year 2017, NASA celebrated the fifth anniversary of the exploratory accomplishments related to the Curiosity rover on the planet Mars and its landing.

It was in early 2013 when the Scientists hit something that was almost close to the jackpot when the rover beamed back information on earth showing proof that Mars had habitable conditions in the past.

Curiosity also succeeded in making the first definitive identification of organics on Mars, as announced in December in the year 2014. Organics do not necessarily point to the existence of life as they can also be created through chemical reactions but are still considered building blocks for life.

Its future missions include a round to mars in the year 2020 to do the same.

Talking about its main goals and objectives on a broad scale:

In order To contribute to the goal of preparing for human exploration on Mars and see if life there could exist, MSL has eight main scientific objectives that are listed below:

Surface radiation:

Characterization of the broad spectrum of surface radiation, that includes solar proton events and secondary neutrons, galactic and cosmic radiation. Also as a part of its exploration, as it traveled to Mars, it also measured the radiation exposure in the interior of the spacecraft and it is continuing radiation measurements as it continues explores the surface of Mars on the same hand. This data would be important for all the future missions that are manned.

Planetary process:

  • Assess long-timescale Martian atmospheric evolution processes

  • Determine present state, distribution, and cycling of water and carbon dioxide

Geological and geochemical:

  • Investigate the chemical, isotopic, and mineralogical composition of the Martian surface and near-surface geological materials

  • Interpret the processes that have formed and modified rocks and soils

Biological

  • Determine the nature and inventory of organic carbon compounds

  • Investigate the chemical building blocks of life like carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur.

  • Identify features that may represent the effects of biological processes that include biosignatures and biomolecules.

Given below is a picture that describes all its components and specifications:

Rover

Talking about The Rover and its total cost:

  • The Curiosity rover weighs 900 kilograms

  • The rover will also be able to move at a speed of 30 meters per hour depending on the terrain when on Mars.

  • Curiosity has 17 cameras and 10 other scientific instruments added to it.

  • These include a mobile organic chemistry lab and a laser that can vaporize rocks.

  • The rover is also powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator and lithium-ion batteries

  • Of all the previous 39 missions to Mars, that include orbiters and landers, only 15 have been successful

  • All six successful landers have been NASA missions, though a Soviet lander did broadcast for 14 minutes before contact was lost

  • The Mars Science Laboratory mission is said to cost which is about $1 billion over budget that is nearly about $2.5 billion.

Moving on to the list of its Accomplishments:

  • Succeeded in the Demonstration of a new heavy-load landing Mars landing technologies.

  • Found ancient Mars could have the right chemistry to be a suitable home for life.

  • Found evidence that water once flowed in the ancient streambed.

  • Provided data on astronaut safety during long space voyage.

Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover Animation:

Video Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory