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Mars Science

Mars Rover Curiosity Sealed Up For Launch 87

astroengine writes "On Oct. 5, less than two months before it will be launched, Mars Science Laboratory 'Curiosity' was sealed between its heat shield and back shell at Kennedy Space Center's Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. The next time the one-ton rover sees daylight will be on Aug. 6, 2012, as the heat shield separates after successful entry through the Martian atmosphere, shortly before Curiosity touches down inside Gale Crater."
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Mars Rover Curiosity Sealed Up For Launch

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  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Friday October 07, 2011 @04:24PM (#37643226) Homepage

    Curiosity's official name is the Mars Science Laboratory. This thing is massive, like really massive. Instead of a dinky little probe like Sojourner or the slightly larger Spirit and Opportunity rovers, Curiosity is about the size of an SUV. This will be the largest rover ever sent to another planet by an order of magnitude. It will be able to do all sorts of interesting geological experiments. It doesn't have that much direct life searches, which is unfortunate because the original life searches on the Viking probes was so inconclusive (most of the tests were positive but no organic molecules were found. There's been some suggestion that certain chlorine compounds in the soil could have destroyed the organics when heating).

    There's a very good animation of the plan for Curiosity landiing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4boyXQuUIw [youtube.com]. The whole process is complicated, involving aero breaking, then rocket breaking and while the rockets hover the whole probe over the ground, the rover is slowly lowered onto the surface. There are unfortunately a fair number of points of failure for this. If it does work though this will be a triumph of modern engineering and give us a lot more knowledge about Mars.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?