Curiosity on Mars

In 18 days and 13 hours an object will appear in the sky over Mars, the object will be suspended by a parachute until its about a mile above the ground then it will split in two. The back shell will then fall to the ground, the second section the “Sky crane” will slow down using small thrusters, slowing the craft down and dropping the Rover onto the ground before firing again landing well away from the rover.

The Rover, Curiosity, represents the next chapter on Martian exploration, weighing 899 kilo’s (Just under a ton) this small car sized rover is expected to help us understand more about Mars.The MSL mission has four scientific goals:

  1. Determine whether Mars could ever have supported life
  2. Study the climate of Mars
  3. Study the geology of Mars
  4. Plan for a human mission to Mars

Determine the mineralogical composition of the Martian surface and near-surface geological materials.To contribute to these goals, MSL has six main scientific objectives:[15][33]

  1. Attempt to detect chemical building blocks of life (biosignatures).
  2. Interpret the processes that have formed and modified rocks and soils.
  3. Assess long-timescale (i.e., 4-billion-year) Martian atmospheric evolution processes.
  4. Determine present state, distribution, and cycling of water and carbon dioxide.
  5. Characterize the broad spectrum of surface radiation, including galactic radiation, cosmic radiation, solar proton events and secondary neutrons.

Curiosity is expected to achieve these goals within one Martian year (98 weeks) however experience with the other two Mars rovers show that if luck is on your side you can run the rover for a lot longer (The Mars rovers were expected to last 92, but at time of writing Opportunity is still working just under 3100 days after landing.)
On board Curiosity is a multitude of Cameras, spectroscopes and other instruments to test the chemistry of Mars, and for future manned missions, the types of radiation on the surface. Unlike Spirit and Opportunity the Rover won’t be powered by Solar panels (as these can get dusty and the Spirit and opportunity Rovers have come close to being switched off by dust build up until it has been cleared by Martian wind)

Spirit showing dust build-up (Click to enlarge)

the Mars science Laboratory mission will place the rover Curiosity at the foot of a mountain of sedimentary strata, or layers, inside Gale Crater. the landing site at 4.6 degrees south latitude, 137.4 degrees east longitude will give the rover access to a field site with science targets both on the crater floor beside the mountain and in the lower layers of the mountain.
Gale Crater spans 96 miles (154 kilometers) in diameter, combined. it holds a mound, informally named Mount sharp, rising about 3 miles (5 kilometers) above the crater floor, which is higher than Mt. rainier rises above Seattle. the slopes of Mount sharp are gentle enough for Curiosity to climb, though during the prime mission of one Martian year (98 weeks), the rover will probably not go beyond some particularly intriguing layers near the base. Because of the geology the strata will give scientists a cross section of Martian geology showing the different stages in the planets life (Much like the Grand Canyon)

Landing is scheduled for 05:31 GMT on August 6.

I hope to keep this updated with what is happening on Mars as well as bring more astro stuff on here whilst complaining about coursework, work the state of my Degree and of course History and Politics.

20120720-003432.jpg

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s