Red Rover | J@N | 4.20.11

Curiosity Rover

Launch Date : November 25, 2011

Martian Landing : August 6, 2012

Five Things About NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover

1. How Big Is It?: About the size of a mini-cooper

Length : 9 feet / 2.8 meters

Weight : 1,984 pounds / 900kg

Scientific Instruments = 176 pounds / 80kg

Mock up’s size comparison - rovers

Rendition Size comparison - landers

2. Landing--Where and How: In November 2008, possible landing sites were narrowed to four finalists, all linked to ancient wet conditions.  Curiosity Landing VIDEO

* Not your typical ‘airbag’ bounce landing

* Parachute  slows the rover's descent toward Mars [Diameter of 51 feet /16 meters]

* Rocket-powered backpack will lower the rover on a tether during the final moments before landing.

3. Toolkit

10 science instruments to examine rocks, soil and the atmosphere

Cameras; Spectrometers; Radiation Detectors; Atmospheric Sensors

ChemCam laser will vaporize patches of rock from a distance [ 23feet/7meters]

The laser zaps a pinhead-sized area on the target, vaporizing it. A spectral analyzer then examines the flash of light produced to identify what elements are present.

Laser Video

Artist Rendition Laser PIC

Astrobiology Tool Kit - search for organic compounds

Mast-mounted cameras to study targets from a distance

Arm-mounted instruments to study targets they touch 

Arm Deployment

Drill on arm

Deck-mounted analytical instruments

Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS)

Uses the alpha particles, or helium nuclei, and X-rays to bombard a target, causing the target to give off its own characteristic alpha particles and X-ray radiation. This radiation is "read by" an X-ray detector inside the sensor head, which reveals which elements and how much of each are in the rock or soil. [All NASA Mars rovers have carried a similar instrument]

Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS)

4. Big Wheels

Independent Drive motors

two front and two rear wheels also have individual steering motors

can make 360-degree turns in-place on the Mars surface 


Test Vehicle

diameter is double the wheel diameter on Spirit and Opportunity 

Size Comparison on Wheels

can roll over obstacles up to 75 centimeters (30 inches) high. Rolling over rock 

5. Rover Power A nuclear battery

Will enable Curiosity to operate year-round and farther from the equator than would be possible with only solar power

Next Mars Rover Gets a Test Taste of Mars Conditions

Testing in environmental conditions resembling Martian surface conditions. March 2011

* 25 foot dieameter chamber [7.6meters]

* Pump air down to Martian atmospheric conditions

* Liquid nitrogen in the walls to drop the temperature to minus 130 degrees Celsius (minus 202 degrees Fahrenheit)

* A bank of powerful lamps simulated the intensity of sunshine on Mars.

Testing Chamber   Rover in test chamber

Mars Rover Construction Webcam Tops Million Viewers

See the construction live on UStream! @ UStream @ NASA

Send your name to Mars

On a microchip on the Mars Science Laboratory rover heading to Mars in 2011

Additional Info :

Mars Science Laboratory

NASA - Mars Science Laboratory

NASA - Science News