Curiosity On The Red Planet
Posted by Charlie Golestani on Aug 1, 2012 - 10:51:12 AM
MARS—NASA’s Curiosity rover is set to land on the
surface of Mars between August 5 and 6.
Artist's conception of the Curiosity Rover. All images courtesy of NASA
The mobile laboratory launched from Cape Canaveral in
November of 2011 made its final preparations in orbit; that is to say, the
flight team spent the day testing the memory and mechanical assemblies of the
rover as well as configuring hardware for entry and descent into the Mars
“Timeline activated. Bleep-bop. I'm running entry,
descent & landing flight software all on my own. Countdown to Mars: 5 days,”
wrote ”˜Curiosity’ July 31, taken from the rover’s Twitter page.
“The flight team continues to monitor Curiosity's on-board systems and flight trajectory. The spacecraft and ground systems remain
in good health, with no significant issues currently being worked,” the flight
The 10-foot craft will pilot autonomously down at 1,000
mph to the surface using maneuvers similar to that of NASA pilots in a series
of S-curves, at which point the shielded base of Curiosity will heat up to
1,600 degrees.Once there, Curiosity can
gather samples, process “and distribute them to on-board test chambers inside
analytical instruments,” according to information from NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, California.The
mobile science lab is also rugged, able to surmount 25-inch obstacles and
travel up to 660 feet per day.
The craft's plotted landing sequence
The aim of the mission is much the same as it has been,
“to assess whether the landing area has ever had or still has environmental
conditions favorable to microbial life, both its habitability and its
preservation.”But never before has
equipment like Curiosity been employed.
Tools to identify and quantify carbon levels, mineral
composites, imaging tools, soil spectrometers, atmospheric sampling tools and even
a pulse laser for precision cutting.
In the assembly room, engineers check the rover's cameras
Everything is set to be recorded in HD video
and stereo sound for broadcast. Times
Square plans to carry the seven minutes of landing footage on its sizable
Toshiba Vision screen, the one used for New Year’s Eve.Viewers can listen in at the online radio
station Third Rock Radio for audio through the TuneIn mobile app or via NASA’s
homepage, at www.thirdrockradio.net
"We're pleased the Toshiba Vision screens
will offer a unique view of this great scientific achievement, the landing of
the rover Curiosity on Mars," said Eddie Temistokle, senior manager of
corporate communications and corporate social responsibility for Toshiba
News briefings begin tomorrow and currently go through
Friday, August 10, with coverage on NASA TV’s Public Channel (101), Education
Channel (102) and Media Channel (103), according to Dwayne Brown from NASA
Headquarters in Washington and Guy Webster of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.