Posted on | August 21, 2012 | No Comments
On August 8, 2012, the Mars Science Laboratory, aka Curiosity, successfully landed on Mars near the foot of Mount Sharpe in the Gale Crater. Curiosity is about the size of a car and will investigate Mars on its two-year mission.
Curiosity is a mobile lab, trying to find out if Mars was ever habitable. To complete its mission, Curiosity is equipped with a lot of great technology – starting with a 125W nuclear battery that powers the whole rover. It has two RCE (Rover Compute Element) Computers which are specifically designed to withstand the huge amounts of radiation it faces on the Martian surface, as well as temperatures ranging between -55°C and 70°C.
Curiosity carries 17 cameras, four of which are relatively high-resolution at two megapixels. The very first images from Curiosity came via its black-and-white hazard avoidance cameras (hazcams). The more recent color pictures come from the rover’s two mastcams. Curiosity carries two radio systems: an X-band system that it can use to communicate directly with Earth, and a UHF system that requires less power, but also necessitates relaying the data via the two Mars orbiters.
Inside the Curiosity, there’s equipment for analyzing rock and mineral samples using an X-ray beam. Scientists hope to use information from Curiosity to find out if water was ever involved in the rocks’ formation on Mars – and whether the rocks contain a potential energy source.