PASADENA, Calif. — The arch scientist for NASA‘s newest Mars corsair mission is streamer to Death Valley currently (April 30), and SPACE.com is going along for a ride.
Caltech’s John Grotzinger, plan scientist for NASA’s outrageous Curiosity rover, is heading a handful of reporters on a two-day outing to a famous patch of California desert, whose geology and vistas are remarkably Mars-like in some places.
The thought is to assistance reporters get a improved thought of a scholarship Curiosity will be doing when it touches down on a Red Planet on a night of Aug. 5.
We skip from a Caltech campus here during 8 a.m. internal time (11 a.m. EDT; 1500 GMT) today, and should hurl into Death Valley about 4 hours later. Unlike wintry Mars, Death Valley will be prohibited for a subsequent integrate of days; we’ve been told to move sunscreen, wide-brim hats and lots of water.
Curiosity, a centerpiece of NASA’s $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, bloody off in late Nov and is slated to land during a Red Planet’s Gale Crater in reduction than 100 days. [Photos: Curiosity's Gale Crater on Mars]
The 1-ton rover’s categorical goal is to establish if a Gale Crater area is, or ever was, means of ancillary microbial life. Curiosity will use a apartment of 10 scholarship instruments to get during this question, including a rock-zapping laser and rigging designed to brand organic compounds — carbon-based molecules that are a building blocks of life as we know it.
Some of these instruments lay during a finish of Curiosity’s five-jointed, 7-foot-long (2.1-meter) robotic arm. The arm also wields a 2-inch (5-centimeter) drill, permitting Curiosity to take samples from low inside Martian rocks. No prior Red Planet corsair has been means to do this.
Before Curiosity can start a scholarship work, however, it contingency land safely — not a given for any heavenly mission, and positively not for MSL, whose outrageous bulk necessitated a invention of an wholly new alighting method. Curiosity will be lowered to a Martian aspect on cables by a rocket-powered skycrane, with cameras rolling all a while.
- Photos: Watching a Mars Rover Curiosity Blast Off
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- Curiosity – The SUV of Mars Rovers
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