Now NASA’s Curiosity rover celebrates 10 several years on Mars, and it’s nevertheless heading powerful considering that its landing on August 6, 2012. As the to start with of a new style and design of Martian rover alongside with Perseverance, Curiosity has not only presented illuminating scientific data about the heritage and geology of the earth but has also shown a host of engineering principles that have created rovers even bigger and superior than at any time ahead of.
When you feel of a Mars rover, numerous people today are picturing something modest, like the microwave-sized Sojourner which landed on Mars in 1997, or the golfing cart sized Prospect and Spirit rovers which landed in 2004. But Curiosity marked the beginning of a lot larger sized rovers, as it and Perseverance are car or truck-sized and drastically heavier than their trailblazing brethren. This improve in sizing and mass indicates that newer rovers can carry significantly a lot more complex scientific instruments, turning rovers from pint-sized explorers which could collect only simple details into cell laboratories. That principle is the place Curiosity obtained its specialized mission name, Mars Science Laboratory.
A more substantial and heavier rover faces a greater problem, while, in conditions of how it can be landed on Mars. Prior generations of Mars rovers have been protected in airbags and in essence dropped onto the area where by they would bounce all over in advance of coming to a halt, with air in the airbags protecting them from impacts. But Curiosity’s significant mass made airbags ineffective, so a new landing method was produced.
The sky crane process which delivered both equally Curiosity and Perseverance securely to the Martian area performs employing a jetpack that fires thrusters to sluggish descent while the rover is decreased on a established of cables. The moment the rover has touched down, the cables detach and the jetpack flies away to protect against any tangles in between it and the rover. This procedure assists to place a rover in a particular and predictable spot, compared with the unpredictable bouncing of airbags, and it can enable down considerably heavier rovers securely.
Curiosity straight away captured the hearts of the public and has manufactured stunning photographs of the Martian landscape as perfectly as gorgeous illustrations or photos of clouds in addition to its get the job done hunting for signs of historical everyday living and measuring the martian environment. Some of its most well-known outreach initiatives have incorporated huge significant-resolution panoramas and videos exhibiting the Gale Crater, exactly where it is exploring.
Mars is even now a hard ecosystem nevertheless, and Curiosity has had to confront worries like sharp rocks which have ruined its wheels. To mitigate this situation, the rover driving crew is thorough about how they use Curiosity to ensure that as minor destruction as probable is finished to the hardware so it can continue operating for as prolonged as it can.
“As soon as you land on Mars, all the things you do is based on the actuality that there is no one close to to mend it for 100 million miles,” said Andy Mishkin, Curiosity’s acting job manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in a statement. “It’s all about earning clever use of what’s currently on your rover.”