Next Mars rover nears completion

Mars Rover nears completion
The rover for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, named Curiosity, is about 3 meters (10 feet) long, not counting the additional length that the rover's arm can be extended forward. The front of the rover is on the left in this side view. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

(PhysOrg.com) -- Assembly and testing of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft is far enough along that the mission's rover, Curiosity, looks very much as it will when it is investigating Mars.

Testing continues this month at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., on the rover and other components of the spacecraft that will deliver Curiosity to Mars. In May and June, the will be shipped to Kennedy Space Center, Fla., where preparations will continue for launch in the period between Nov. 25 and Dec. 18, 2011.

Mars Rover nears completion
Support equipment is holding the Mars rover Curiosity slightly off the floor. When the wheels are on the ground, the top of the rover's mast is about 2.2 meters (7 feet) above ground level. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The mission will use to study one of the most intriguing places on Mars -- still to be selected from among four finalist landing-site candidates. It will study whether a selected area of Mars has offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life and for preserving evidence about whether Martian life has existed.

Mars Rover nears completion
Curiosity's arm and remote sensing mast carry science instruments and other tools for the mission. This image, taken April 4, 2011, inside the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at JPL shows the arm on the left and the mast just right of center. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory mission for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.


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Apr 07, 2011
So much time and money went into this thing. It will be a sad day if this thing crashes on Mars...

Apr 07, 2011
So much time and money went into this thing. It will be a sad day if this thing crashes on Mars...


What's more, most of the technology on it is already obsolete.

They even scrapped the 3-d camera that was supposed to be installed on it.

Apr 07, 2011
What's more, most of the technology on it is already obsolete.
Obsolete in what sense? Radiation-hardened and space-hardened hardware (and in the case of the rover, it's both of the above) always lags behind off-the-shelf hardware by two or three generations. As far as space-faring designs go, I don't think there's any basis for denigrating the rover's technology as "already obsolete".

ACW
Apr 07, 2011
Why not send humans? We have the technology and the plan (Mars Direct)
Manned space exploration is necessary for humankind's future, as Earth will not always be the comparative paradise it is today.

Apr 11, 2011
why can't they send something that can fly around the planet...these rovers are too slow..........we need something like that in return of the jedi

Apr 11, 2011
Why not send humans?
Because with modern technology it's still unnecessarily dangerous, and completely unaffordable.
why can't they send something that can fly around the planet...
It's rather difficult to fly in such a thin atmosphere (the pressure at Mars' SURFACE -- never mind high above the surface -- is about the same as air pressure on Earth at an altitude of 36 km, or 118,000 feet.) One would need a very large wingspan, and very small payload. And even then, it takes a lot more energy to fly than it does to slowly roll along the ground.

Plus, flyers can't sample soil, drill into rocks, and pick things up and put them under a microscope...

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