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Mars Science Laboratory

Posted: July 23rd, 2011, 9:26 pm
by Christopher K.
An announcement came yesterday from NASA that the Mars Science Laboratory (named Curiosity) will land at the foot of a mountain inside Gale Crater, which was named after an Australian astronomer. The thirty potential landing sites chosen in 2006 were pared down to four in 2008. Curiosity will lift off on board an Atlas V no earlier than 25 November.

The main goal of Curiosity is to ascertain whether Mars ever was conducive to microbial life; it will be the largest of all the Martian rovers. The layers at the base of the mountain house clay and sulfates--a salt or ester of sulfuric acid. Both clay and sulfates are known to form in water.

More information: ... 10722.html

Re: Mars Science Laboratory

Posted: August 4th, 2011, 11:58 pm
by Christopher K.
In June the radar that will be used on the Mars Science Laboratory had a test run on board an F/A-18. No surprise, but the southern California desert was used as pseudo-Mars terrain.

More information: ... 10621.html

Re: Mars Science Laboratory

Posted: November 4th, 2011, 11:58 pm
by Christopher K.
The MSL arrived at Launch Complex 41 at 3:35am CST today. It was placed atop its Atlas V rocket. On Saturday, 29 October the logo was put on the outside of the fairing at the Payload Hazardous Processing Facility.

Image: ... 10-29.html

Re: Mars Science Laboratory

Posted: November 23rd, 2011, 4:36 pm
by Christopher K.
The Atlas V should leave the Vertical Integration Facility, headed toward Launch Complex 41, on Friday morning. The weather looks good.

MSL is part of a series which will attempt to...
1) determine whether life ever arose on Mars
2) characterize the climate of Mars
3) characterize the geology of Mars
4) help the human species be prepared more fully to go to Mars

More information:

MSL Fact Sheet: ... ratory.pdf

MSL Launch Milestones: ... tones.html

Re: Mars Science Laboratory

Posted: November 30th, 2011, 2:50 pm
by Christopher K.
The Curiosity Rover launched on board an Atlas V at its appointed time of 9:02am this past Saturday morning.

The innovative sky-crane touchdown should occur on 6 August 2012. The ability to target a precise landing area is what is making this part of Gale Crater accessible.

Curiosity has an instrument to monitor natural radiation, levels of which we need to be aware to send human beings to Mars.

More information: ... 11126.html

Re: Mars Science Laboratory

Posted: December 16th, 2011, 8:07 pm
by Christopher K.
Curiosity's RAD instrument was activated on 6 December. It will be the only science instrument "up and running" on the way to Mars. Although its main job is to determine how much shielding from radiation human beings will need while on Mars, the instrument is capable of studying effect of CMEs from the Sun on cosmic rays.

More information: ... ec_mslrad/

Re: Mars Science Laboratory

Posted: August 3rd, 2012, 1:02 pm
by Christopher K.
Baton Rouge native Keith Comeaux will be serving as Flight Director for the Curiosity Rover landing, which is scheduled Sunday night. Comeaux earned his Ph.D. in engineering from Stanford University.

More information: ... d-in-rover ... hd-1995-aa ... 09_prt.htm

Re: Mars Science Laboratory

Posted: August 8th, 2012, 1:06 pm
by Tom
As most everyone knows, the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) successfully landed at about 12:30 am our time Monday. As of this afternoon's press conference, NASA has reported that Curiosity's mast is in the up position and all systems with the vehicle are are in great working order. Although they posted a few higher resolution pics, they will be presenting more tomorrow, including a 360 degree hi/res pic. Wow!

Re: Mars Science Laboratory

Posted: August 20th, 2012, 11:11 pm
by Christopher K.
Saturday's APOD was a synthetic view of Curiosity and its surroundings "taken" from an oblique angle slightly above the scene.

Curiosity's first destination will be an area named Glenelg, where multiple types of terrain can be studied.

It was an exciting landing confirmation. The cheering and applause were infectious.

Saturday's APOD:

About Glenelg: ... 6065b.html

Re: Mars Science Laboratory

Posted: August 22nd, 2012, 7:30 pm
by Christopher K.
Last Wednesday's APOD was an image from Mars approximated to a "human eye" view. It shows a far-off wall of Gale Crater, and I'm surprised at its non-smoothness. Maybe the distance is making it hard for me to know for sure, but the side of Gale seems to have a very shallow rising angle, and there are hill-like structures here and there along the wall. Interesting.

The image...