Posts tagged rover
Wow. 9 years ago today, Mars rover Spirit bounced across the Martian landscape, eventually coming to a rolling stop inside Gusev Crater. Sadly, in 2010 the highly successful six-wheeled robot became stuck in a sand trap and stopped transmitting.
Spirit’s sister rover, Opportunity, lives on and still returns incredible science, a feat that mission scientists will continue for some time. “Every day is a gift at this point,” said rover mission principal investigator Steve Squyres, of Cornell University, said last month at the annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. “We’re just going to push the rover, and push ourselves, as hard as we can.”
Mars Rover Opportunity Finds ‘Rich’ Clay Deposits: “A new study looks at chemicals spotted by a Mars-orbiting spacecraft to conclude that Endeavour Crater, which Opportunity reached in August 2011 after a 1,000-plus day, 13-mile trek across the plains of Meridian, is flush with a variety of clays, which on Earth, form in the presence of water.”
BREAKING: NASA Plans ‘Curiosity Twin’ Rover Mission in 2020: The new rover will be a virtual duplicate of Curiosity, a car-sized, nuclear-powered rover that landed on Mars on Aug. 6 to look for habitats that could have supported — or perhaps still supports — microbial life. Using spare equipment and the same designs should allow NASA to shave about $1 billion off the cost of the two-year, $2.5 billion Curiosity mission.
(Billions or Martian microbes just screamed out in chorus: “crap.”)
“This data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good,” — John Grotzinger, lead scientist of the MSL mission.
What’s Grotzinger referring to? Although it’s a guess, it’s an educated guess: Curiosity may have detected organic compounds in the Mars soil.
As we ooh and aah over Curiosity’s plus-sized tire marks in the Mars regolith, it’s time to reminisce about the little rover that started it all in 1997: Sojourner.
To quote Discovery News’ space historian Amy Shira Teitel:
The first picture offering incontrovertible visual evidence that all six wheels were on the surface came shortly thereafter. The camera on the Pathfinder lander snapped the rover a few inches beyond the ramp. For the first time, mission scientists could see the site of remote analysis; the soil underneath the rover was the site of its first spectroscopic measurements. Sojourner looked around it’s new home. It sent images to Earth taken with two cameras so engineers would have a sense of perspective when planning the rover’s path. The little rover didn’t have the sophisticated autonomy of Spirit, Opportunity, or Curiosity so relied almost entirely on its Earthbound driver.
Alien Robots That Left Their Mark on Mars
To any hypothetical Martians on the Red Planet, it may look like an alien invasion is underway — but these aliens come from the Blue Planet and they seem to insist on sending wave after wave of increasingly sophisticated robotic probes that dig, burn, scour and damage their pristine landscape! So, as we watch the incredible Curiosity rover dominate Gale Crater, it’s time to take a step back and contemplate how these surface missions have changed the Martian landscape.
This is what happens to naughty Mars rocks. *pew pew pew*
The rover’s Chemistry and Camera instrument, or ChemCam, blasted a flat, fist-sized rock with a high-powered laser 30 times in 10 seconds, creating plasma sparks that were analyzed by three light-splitting spectrometers to determine their chemical contents.
MSL Curiosity is starting to look around and will calibrate her camera using the pixelated sticker mounted on her frame (in photo #2)
She may have seen her own shadow, but as Mars is near the end of summer at the moment, so it won’t be having six more weeks of winter. #joke
UPDATE: I changed out the top two images for a spliced one from NASA. w00t!
This is a great photo. The newest Mars rover is nearly the size of a Mini Cooper!
In honor of Curiosity’s successful landing, I present “Three Generations,” courtesy of John Klose , JPL employee since 2002. It shows the Mars landers
Spirit (foreground), Sojourner (foreground), Opportunity (middle), and Curiosity (background) taken in front of JPL building 180, aka the Directors building.
We’re landing on Mars again on Monday, so excite!
Mars rover Curiosity will look for environments where life could have taken hold — and been preserved. The wheeled robot will explore a three-mile high mound of what appears to be layers of sediment.
Make sure you check out Ian’s coverage from JPL! Go Mars!
NASA cheekily refers to the Mars Science Laboratory’s complicated landing scenario, a scheme that relies on a flyable platform, supersonic parachutes and an aerial crane, as “the seven minutes of terror.”
Now, thanks to a glitch that repositioned MSL’s primary communications satellite, those seven minutes of terror may be followed by a couple of hours of nail-biting uncertainty over whether the rover arrived safely or not.