Saturday, August 25, 2012 9:01:56 PM
Since my last post on the MSL mission, Curiosity has roved! It hasn't gone far - just enough to test all the roving systems. Which it has, apparently, passed with flying colours.
It has also sent back more stunning images of the area around Gale Crater:
NASA / JPL / MSSS / Fred B.
Here's a 3D image of some of the tracks it left in the Martian surface (red/green glasses required):
There will be a few more days or weeks of systems checks before the rover starts on it's journey toward "Glenelg" on the slopes of Mount Sharp (Aeolis Mons) to look at the layered deposits there.
Friday, August 10, 2012 5:46:59 PM
The MSL (Curiosity) mission has successfully landed on the surface of Mars.
The descent phase of the mission was actually caught on camera by the orbiting HiRISE camera on board the MRO (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter):
Here's an annotated picture of the landing site showing not just the rover but the elements of the entire descent mission:
Since that incredible landing, MSL has been taking a few pictures of it's surroundings. Here's a panorama of Gale Crater taken today:
At the moment (Sol 4) the rover is still in the same place that it landed. The rover won't start roving until about Sol 5:http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/timeline/firstdrive/
That is when the real mission - and the real science - will properly begin.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 9:40:59 PM
Could be a big day this Saturday - 26 November. It's the proposed launch date of the Mars Science Laboratory better known as Curiosity.
It's a NASA mission that is due to follow up the phenomenal success of the Spirit and Opportunity missions. Opportunity, of course is still going strong in Endeavour crater on Mars.
Curiosity is heading for a crater called Gale mainly to look for signs of life. It should land between the 6th to 20th August 2012.
I'm sure I'll post several times in the future about Curiosity's mission, but lets start at the beginning...
The MSL will be launched from Cape Canaveral using an Atlas V rocket. The rover itself has a mass (on Earth) of around 900 kg. Landing such a massive rover on the surface of Mars is a tough technical challenge. What NASA have come up with has to be seen to be believed!
Can you believe that? The last part, just before the rover actually touches down, is called the Sky crane. It has never been used on a mission before.
There is a lot that could go wrong, but we are quite a way off the "landing on Mars" bit just yet. Phobos Grunt has shown that a mission can go wrong at any time, but the potential rewards are huge. Spirit and Opportunity have proved that rovers can be highly successful on Mars and I can't wait for this mission to succeed and produce results.
Good luck for the launch, Curiosity!