» The Mars Rovers and Curiosity's New Milestone
The Mars Rovers and Curiosity's New Milestone
Mars has played host to a number of rovers. All have lasted longer than they were expected to. Spirit and Opportunity have brought us some stunning images and have helped NASA understand elements of the geology that makes the red planet a possible location of some form of like years ago. Both rovers were made to last 90 days on the planets surface. Each rover landed on the Martian surface in 2004. Spirit lasted till March 2010 and even more incredible is that fact opportunity is still roving! One day, with the distance of the Sun and Earth increasing from Mars it will only be time before the components cannot store enough energy and it will fall silent. Until that time we have to hand it to those engineers that have made those rovers last for so long.
Opportunity's recent self portrait with dust blown from its solar panels
We now know there was definitely water at points in the history of the evolution of Mars. Another rover was needed to be able to access in even more detail. Here is where curiosity came into development. It was controversial when launched due to the radioactive power pack it contained. This was not a new form of space energy as the Viking landers had them in the 1970’s. Curiosity needs this type of power source as it serves another very important function. It can help heat and cool the systems in the harsh temperature ranges that the planet inflicts. It is the size of a car so needs that power to move it over the terrain it is expected to traverse it the 14 years or more that it will be in operation.
The latest self portrait of Curiosity taken May to April 2014
Curiosity has hit a great landmark. It has just passed its first Martian year. One year on Mars is around 687 Earth days but one of its solar days (usually called a Sol) is around the same as on Earth. During its time the rover has collected numerous samples from drilling into rock and is using its inbuilt laboratory to analyse the results. Use the links at the end of this blog to find out more, as its findings over the year have been very exciting indeed. I remember staying up to watch the landing live in August 2012. The way they landed it was nothing sort of genius. The control room had to wait once it had enter the planets atmosphere as the automatic landing movements took it on that incredible journey. There was a delay in signal so when the first photograph appeared it was such a thrill. I couldn’t sleep once I had witnessed such incredible science. It really did blow my mind and I wanted to be part of it. See the video below for the technique that was used to literally land a car, unharmed, on Mars. Here is to more discoveries from this wonderful human feat of engineering.
A map of the route the rover has taken up until 663 Earth days. The white line is its next planned route
The following is the marvellous way that NASA/JPL landed the heavy rover
The NASA rovers website
NASA Mars Science Laboratory website
and finally footage from the actual rover lander!
Category: Science |
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