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Mars Curiosity rover celebrates 10 year landing anniversary

At this time NASA’s Curiosity rover celebrates 10 years on Mars, and it’s nonetheless going sturdy since its landing on August 6, 2012. As the primary of a brand new design of Martian rover together with Perseverance, Curiosity has not solely supplied illuminating scientific details about the historical past and geology of the planet however has additionally demonstrated a bunch of engineering ideas which have made rovers greater and higher than ever earlier than.

Whenever you consider a Mars rover, many individuals are picturing one thing small, just like the microwave-sized Sojourner which landed on Mars in 1997, or the golf cart sized Alternative and Spirit rovers which landed in 2004. However Curiosity marked the start of a lot bigger rovers, because it and Perseverance are car-sized and considerably heavier than their trailblazing brethren. This enhance in dimension and mass signifies that newer rovers can carry way more advanced scientific devices, turning rovers from pint-sized explorers which may gather solely fundamental knowledge into cellular laboratories. That precept is the place Curiosity received its technical mission identify, Mars Science Laboratory.

A poster produced by NASA to celebrate the Curiosity Mars rover’s tenth anniversary on the Red Planet.
A poster produced by NASA to rejoice the Curiosity Mars rover’s tenth anniversary on the Crimson Planet. NASA/JPL-Caltech

A much bigger and heavier rover faces an even bigger problem, although, when it comes to how it may be landed on Mars. Earlier generations of Mars rovers had been lined in airbags and basically dropped onto the floor the place they might bounce round earlier than coming to a cease, with air within the airbags defending them from impacts. However Curiosity’s vital mass made airbags ineffective, so a brand new landing system was developed.

The sky crane system which delivered each Curiosity and Perseverance safely to the Martian floor works utilizing a jetpack that fires thrusters to gradual descent whereas the rover is lowered on a set of cables. As soon as the rover has touched down, the cables detach and the jetpack flies away to stop any tangles between it and the rover. This technique helps to put a rover in a selected and predictable location, not like the unpredictable bouncing of airbags, and it may well let down a lot heavier rovers safely.

Curiosity instantly captured the hearts of the general public and has produced gorgeous pictures of the Martian panorama in addition to stunning pictures of clouds along with its work in search of indicators of historic life and measuring the martian ambiance. A few of its hottest outreach initiatives have included huge high-resolution panoramas and movies exhibiting the Gale Crater, the place it’s exploring.

Mars remains to be a tricky atmosphere although, and Curiosity has needed to face challenges like (*10*)sharp rocks which have broken its wheels. To mitigate this situation, the rover driving group is cautious about how they use Curiosity to make sure that as little harm as attainable is completed to the {hardware} so it may well proceed working for so long as it may well.

“As quickly as you land on Mars, every little thing you do is predicated on the truth that there’s nobody round to restore it for 100 million miles,” stated Andy Mishkin, Curiosity’s performing mission supervisor at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in a assertion. “It’s all about making clever use of what’s already in your rover.”

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