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Archive for August 6, 2012

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Caught In The Act Of Landing


Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

An image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured the Curiosity rover still connected to its 51-foot-wide (almost 16 meter) parachute as it descended towards its landing site at Gale Crater.

“If HiRISE took the image one second before or one second after, we probably would be looking at an empty Martian landscape,” said Sarah Milkovich, HiRISE investigation scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “When you consider that we have been working on this sequence since March and had to upload commands to the spacecraft about 72 hours prior to the image being taken, you begin to realize how challenging this picture was to obtain.”

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-232

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Curiosity Ready To Rove Mars


Almost nine months after it was launched, Curiosity, NASA’s latest rover, landed safely in the Gale Crater of Mars in the wee hours of August 6 CDT. The last seven minutes were particularly dramatic as the mission executed several complicated maneuvers to deliver the car-sized rover through the thin Martian atmosphere and gently place it in a very specific location.

The Mars Science Laboratory uses 10 instrument-based science investigations, including SwRI’s Radiation Assessment Detector, to search for evidence of elements needed to support life – namely, water and carbon-based materials – and to characterize life-limiting factors, such as the planet’s radiation environment.

SwRI’s RAD is the only MSL science instrument that was put to work during the journey to Mars, measuring the radiation environment inside the spacecraft.

Full Story: http://swri.org/9what/releases/2012/mslrad.htm

NASA’s New Mars Rover Sends Higher-Resolution Image


Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

About two hours after landing on Mars and beaming back its first image, NASA’s Curiosity rover transmitted a higher-resolution image of its new Martian home, Gale Crater. Mission Control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., received the image, taken by one of the vehicle’s lower-fidelity, black-and-white Hazard Avoidance Cameras – or Hazcams.

“Curiosity’s landing site is beginning to come into focus,” said John Grotzinger, project manager of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “In the image, we are looking to the northwest. What you see on the horizon is the rim of Gale Crater. In the foreground, you can see a gravel field. The question is, where does this gravel come from? It is the first of what will be many scientific questions to come from our new home on Mars.”

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-231

NASA Lands Car-Size Rover Beside Martian Mountain


Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s most advanced Mars rover Curiosity has landed on the Red Planet. The one-ton rover, hanging by ropes from a rocket backpack, touched down onto Mars Sunday to end a 36-week flight and begin a two-year investigation.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft that carried Curiosity succeeded in every step of the most complex landing ever attempted on Mars, including the final severing of the bridle cords and flyaway maneuver of the rocket backpack.

“Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars. Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars — or if the planet can sustain life in the future,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-230

Also: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/news/msl20120805c.html