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.
In this picture, the rover examines a rock on Mars with a set of tools at the end of the rover’s arm, which extends about 2 meters (7 feet). Two instruments on the arm can study rocks up close. Also, a drill can collect sample material from inside of rocks and a scoop can pick up samples of soil. The arm can sieve the samples and deliver fine powder to instruments inside the rover for thorough analysis.
The mast, or rover’s “head,” rises to about 2.1 meters (6.9 feet) above ground level, about as tall as a basketball player. This mast supports two remote-sensing instruments: the Mast Camera, or “eyes,” for stereo color viewing of surrounding terrain and material collected by the arm; and, the ChemCam instrument, which is a laser that vaporizes material from rocks up to about 9 meters (30 feet) away and determines what elements the rocks are made of.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
For more information about Curiosity is at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ .
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST), Thursday, Nov. 10, to discuss the upcoming launch of the Mars Science Laboratory, with the largest and most capable rover going to another planet. The televised event will take place at NASA Headquarters in Washington and will be carried live on NASA TV and Ustream.
The Mars Science Laboratory mission is scheduled to launch at 7:25 a.m. PST (10:25 a.m. EST), on Nov. 25. The launch period extends to Dec. 18. The spacecraft will deliver a car-size rover named Curiosity to the surface of Mars in August 2012.
News conference participants are:
— Doug McCuistion, director, Mars Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington
— Ashwin Vasavada, Mars Science Laboratory deputy project scientist, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
— Pete Theisinger, Mars Science Laboratory project manager, JPL
NASA TV streaming video, scheduling and downlink information is at: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv . The news conference will also be carried on JPL’s Ustream channel, with a moderated chat, at http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl .
For more information about the new rover, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/msl and at http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ .
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory mission for NASA.