International Journal of Mars Research | ISSN 2453-8760 | Current Issue: 5 Volume 4

Mars Science Laboratory mission – Curiosity rover

MSL Curiosity

MSL Curiosity

Name of mission: Mars Science Laboratory

Name of rover: Curiosity

Operator: NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Size: Size of small car – 3,04 m (length without arm), 2,74 m width and 2,13 m height

Mass: 900 kg

Instruments: Alpha Particle X-ray spectrometer, Chemistry and Camera, Chemistry and Mineralogy, Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons, Mars Descent imager, radiation Assessment Detector, rover environmental Monitoring station, sample Analysis at Mars, MsL entry, Descent and Landing instrument suite

Launch date: November 26, 2011 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, (complex 41)

Arrival at Mars: August 6, 2012

Landing on Mars: August 6, 2012

Location of landing: Gale Crater

Planned mission lenght: PPrimary mission is planned for 23 months (1 martian year)

Brief information about Curiosity:

NASA’s Mars science Laboratory mission will put a mobile laboratory onto the surface inside Gale Crater on Mars and use it to investigate the area’s past and present environments. the landing will use active guidance for improved landing accuracy and a sky crane for touchdown. the mobile laboratory is the Curiosity rover, equipped with 10 science investigations and a robotic arm that can drill into rocks, scoop up soil and deliver samples to internal analytical instruments. the mission will assess whether the area has offered condi- tions favorable for life and favorable for preserving a rock record of evidence about whether life has existed there. Curiosity has the capability to drive for 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) or more during a mission lasting one Martian year (98 weeks).

The trip from earth to Mars will take about 36 weeks (255 days if launch is at the opening of the launch period on Nov. 25, 2011). Most of this period (210 days if launch is Nov. 25) is the cruise phase of the mission. the final 45 days are the approach phase.

Why carter Gale?

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 4.5 degrees south latitude, 137.4 degrees east longi- tude 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, giving it an area about the equivalent of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. it holds a mound or mountain rising about 3 miles (5 kilometers) above the crater floor, which is higher than Mt. Rainier rises above Seattle. the slopes of the mountain 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.

Gale sits at a low elevation relative to most of the surface of Mars, suggesting that if Mars ever had much flow-

ing water, some of it would have pooled inside Gale. Observations from orbit that add evidence of a wet history include water-related clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers of the mound, and textures higher on the mound where it appears that mineral-saturated groundwater filled fractures and deposited minerals.

For landing of Curiosity will be used for the first time the sky crane:

360 degree view from Curiosity cameras

More information about this mission you can find at these links:

sources: NASA, JPL California Institute of Technology