MARS—NASA’s Curiosity rover is set to land on the surface of Mars between August 5 and 6.
“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 team reported.
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 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.
"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 America Inc.
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.
For online video coverage of the event, visit http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html
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