Mars Rover Curiosity
Mission: Is the Mars Environment Able to Support Microbial Life?



Mars Rover Curiosity
Mission: Is the Mars Environment Able to Support Microbial Life?

The wheels and suspension system have been installed on NASA's next Mars rover, Curiosity, a key step in assembly and testing of the flight system for the Mars Science Laboratory mission slated to launch in November 2011.

The centerpiece of MSL, Curiosity has six wheels and a rocker-bogie suspension system like its smaller predecessors: Spirit, Opportunity and Sojourner. Each wheel has its own drive motor and the corner wheels also have independent steering motors.

Unlike earlier Mars rovers, Curiosity will also use its
mobility system as landing gear when the mission's rocket-powered descent stage lowers the rover directly onto the Martian surface on a tether in August 2012.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), known as Curiosity, is a NASA rover scheduled to be launched in November 2011 and would perform the first-ever precision landing on Mars.

It is a rover that will assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life.

In other words, its mission is to determine the planet's habitability. It will also analyze samples scooped up from the soil and drilled powders from rocks.

The MSL rover will be over five times as heavy as and carry over ten times the weight of scientific instruments as the Spirit or Opportunity rovers.

The United States, Canada, Germany, France, Russia and Spain will provide the instruments on board. The MSL rover will be launched by an Atlas V 541 rocket and will be expected to operate for at least 1 Martian year (668 Martian sols/686 Earth days) as it explores with greater range than any previous Mars rover.

Mars Science Laboratory is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of Mars, and is a project managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The total cost of the MSL project is about $2.3 billion USD.

 
The Curiosity Rover is a robotic Rover for exploring mars. This Rover is the next Generation of Mars Rovers beyond Spirit and Opportunity. The Mars Rover Curiosity's mission is to determine the planet Mars habitability.




Curiosity


Meet NASA's New Mars Rover


Highlights from the stunning mission animation of "Curiosity" - NASA's new one tonne Mars Rover which is set to reach the Red Planet in 2012.

The video is set to excerpts of "Mars, Bringer of War" and "Uranus, The Magician" from Holst's Planet Suite.


"Curiosity will be prospecting for organic molecules, the chemical building blocks of life," says Joy Crisp of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "We want to find out whether Mars' environment was, or still is, capable of harboring life."

Curiosity will be the first red planet rover since Spirit and Opportunity. Though it would be hard to match the twins' toughness, Curiosity will have a much greater range, more instruments, and a bigger, stronger robotic arm.

It will be nuclear powered instead of solar, so there will be no worries about dust on solar panels causing energy supplies to plummet. It will have much more power, more consistently.



The Curiosity Rover


The Curiosity Rover is a robotic Rover for exploring mars. This Rover is the next Generation of Mars Rovers beyond Spirit and Opportunity.



The MSL has four goals:
  • To determine if life ever arose on Mars,
  • to characterize the climate of Mars,
  • to characterize the geology of Mars,
  • and to prepare for human exploration.

To contribute to the four science goals and meet its specific goal of determining Mars' habitability, Mars Science Laboratory has eight scientific objectives:

  1. Determine the nature and inventory of organic carbon compounds.
  2. Inventory the chemical building blocks of life as we know it: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur.
  3. Identify features that may represent the effects of biological processes.
  4. Investigate the chemical, isotopic, and mineralogical composition of the Martian surface and near-surface geological materials.
  5. Interpret the processes that have formed and modified rocks and soils.
  6. Assess long-timescale (i.e., 4-billion-year) Martian atmospheric evolution processes.
  7. Determine present state, distribution, and cycling of water and carbon dioxide.
  8. Characterize the broad spectrum of surface radiation, including galactic radiation, cosmic radiation, solar proton events and secondary neutrons.