On August 5th, 2012 the most technologically advanced interplanetary rover landed on Mars. Its mission: determine if microbial life has ever been sustained on the red planet. To accomplish this goal, Curiosity is equipped with a multitude of laboratory equipment and tools. This resulted in a much larger and heavier structure, which posed a greater challenge for landing the rover on Mars. Below is a graphic about the landing structure, which is a different design that anything used before.
Like any lab, Curiosity requires energy to power its systems. The power source is not solar panels (as I first imagined they would be) but rather a battery that is constantly recharged by the heat from the radioactive decay of plutonium-238.
One of the functions performed by the rover is to take drill samples from the Martian surface (exciting stuff for all the geotechnical engineers out there!). Below is a photo of the area drilled by Curiosity. The rover’s ‘ChemCam’ will provide spectra information detailing the soils composition.
Another function of Curiosity is that of a photographer. Like any photographer, an occasional self portait is necessary. The self portrait below gives us a good view of the rover as well as the Martian skyline.
To see an interactive overview of Curiosity’s specs, go here.
For more pictures taken by Curiosity, go here.
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