NASA’s Mars Rovers – an introduction
Space technologically keeps advancing at a fast rate and is basically so cool. Technological advancements have led to new innovations, capabilities and expanded space exploration. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), is owned and run by the government and has over the years been launching Mars rovers to explore the red planet. Each time they have sent a rover to the planet the data collected has continued to expand our knowledge of Mars.
Curiosity: the newest Mars rover
Recently NASA successfully landed a new rover known as Curiosity on Mars in what is known as the Gale Crater. The 1-ton, six-wheeled mobile Mars laboratory, was launched in November last year and completed its long journey and landed on the planet. The robot is nuclear-powered and the main objective is to determine the makeup of the planets land, presence of water and general environment of Mars with an eye towards a manned mission in the future. It will drill into the rocks, soil and analyze what it finds all the while relaying data back to Earth.
The biggest Mars rover ever yet
Curiosity is the biggest rover to ever be launched to the planet. The large size has benefited scientist greatly because it has given them the opportunity to be able to put more instruments on it and with the increased size it can explore even further into the terrain.
The most effective and technologically advanced rover to date
The landing method with this rover was changed and is more effective as compared to the other methods. When the lander approached the ground it fired rockets and hovered a few feet above the surface, before gently and carefully lowering the robot to the ground using wires. The landing system allowed researchers to better target the best spot to land the rover. There are many considerations that were made by the scientists before coming up with the main mechanism which the robot will use in analyzing many different minerals on the red planet. The digging is going to be done by a robotic arm and a turning fork that is paired with X-ray capabilities and a sleeve which holds the soil.
On the 17th of August, The project scientist, John Grotzinger, announced at a media teleconference that the scientist and engineers behind the project have selected the first destination for the rover. The selected destination has been named Glenelg. The scientist made this choice after the successful landing of the rover gave them a variety of options on the best place to explore. The first drilling at the destination will mark a great moment in the history of the exploration of the planet.
It will be exciting to watch over the coming year the exploration and data collected by Curiosity. Who knows what might be discovered and how it will impact our future exploration of Mars.
Useful related links
- Curiosity Rover on Mars: Complete Coverage | Space.com
NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity is the largest rover ever sent to the Red Planet. See coverage of the rover’s Aug. 5 PDT Mars landing here.
- MSL | NASA
The latest news, images and videos from NASA’s car-sized rover exploring the red planet for evidence the planet could have once supported life.
- Curiosity (rover) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia