New animation depicts next Mars rover in action

June 27, 2011
This artist concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life. Curiosity is being tested in preparation for launch in the fall of 2011. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

( -- Although NASA's Mars Science Laboratory will not leave Earth until late this year nor land on Mars until August 2012, anyone can watch those dramatic events now in a new animation of the mission.

The full, 11-minute animation, shows sequences such as the spacecraft separating from its near Earth and the mission's rover, Curiosity, zapping rocks with a laser and examining samples of powdered rock on Mars. A shorter, narrated version is also available below.

Curiosity's landing will use a different method than any previous Mars landing, with the rover suspended on tethers from a rocket-backpack "sky crane."

The new animation combines detailed views of the with scenes of real places on Mars, based on stereo images taken by earlier missions.

"It is a treat for the 2,000 or more people who have worked on the Mars during the past eight years to watch these action scenes of the hardware the project has developed and assembled," said Mars Science Laboratory Project Manager Pete Theisinger at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "The animation also provides an exciting view of this mission for any fan of adventure and exploration."

Explore further: Helicopter Helps Test Radar for 2012 Mars Landing

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5 / 5 (1) Jun 27, 2011
Cool! I enjoy watching these videos NASA puts out.
I'm intrigued by the different suspension/leg system they have on this model. I just hope they've learned from Spirit and Opportunity's difficulties with the soft soil and have given the rover the ability to 'walk' its way out of tough situations instead of digging itself deeper.
not rated yet Jun 27, 2011
Nice animation. Wonder how large it is compared to Spirit and Opportunity. Also, noted lack of solar panels so is this RTG based and if so, how long could the mission potentially last?
5 / 5 (1) Jun 27, 2011
Nice animation.

Yes. I think I saw some Jawas in the hills there...

Wonder how large it is compared to Spirit and Opportunity. Also, noted lack of solar panels so is this RTG based and if so, how long could the mission potentially last?

MSL is around 3m long. See comparison here:

The power source has a minimum lifetime of around 14 years, but I doubt the mechanicals will hold out that long.
1 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2011
2 years. Second video, 4:08.
not rated yet Jun 28, 2011
wow. amazing video. gotta ask though, wonder how much $$ they put into just that animation vid =P

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