Mars rover

NASA’s expensive Mars exploration Curiosity rover is finally doing what it was created to do: rove. Following a successful wheel test, the probe moved forward. Photo Gallery: Curiosity Rover Makes First Tracks on Mars article tells that Curiosity beamed back some incredible images of its tracks, which tell scientists that the soil is firm, great for mobility, and won’t cause the rover to sink much. Curiosity also pulled out its big scientific guns, firing a laser beam at several rocks in the vicinity.

Yes, the Mars rover cost $2bn – but it’s far from a waste of money. Landing Curiosity on Mars was Way Harder and Way Less Expensive than the Olympics. Curiosity rover is about the size of a small SUV and weighs almost 900 kg. It uses scoops, cameras, drills, a powerful rock-vaporizing infrared laser, and 75 kilograms of scientific instruments to perform its investigation. Curiosity is very much based on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology. Wind River’s VxWorks real-time operating system serves as the software platform for all functionality. Seeing the successful commencement of the Curiosity mission – powered by COTS – is certainly a cause for celebration amongst engineers.

Plan Make Your Own LEGO Curiosity Rover for fun? Stephen Pakbaz designed a custom Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory Rover set, complete with PDF build instructions and parts lists. LEGO Cusoo pages have another model of the Mars Science Laboratory rover, named Curiosity designed by a Mechanical Engineer who worked on the actual Curiosity. A LEGO Digital Designer model and step-by-step .pdf instructions of the Curiosity rover are now freely available.

Rovio sticks some Martian action into Angry Birds Space and has released the following funny advertisement video that features Curiosity rover and Angry Birds.

161 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    NASA Orion’s challenging journey to the Red Planet: Power and Thermal mission planning
    http://www.edn.com/design/power-management/4440204/NASA-Orion-s-challenging-journey-to-the-Red-Planet–Power-and-Thermal-mission-planning?_mc=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_funfriday_20151218&cid=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_funfriday_20151218&elq=352c0cbb57664392b0337bf6b93a085e&elqCampaignId=26252&elqaid=29993&elqat=1&elqTrackId=e60dce0f061347eea97b7321e9e5bd45

    Meet Nujoud Merancy, a senior lead engineer at Booz Allen, where she currently serves as the Mission Planning & Analysis Lead for NASA’s Orion. She brings to NASA’s mission more than six years of experience in Orion vehicle integration, systems integration, and performance analysis.

    Nujoud Merancy’s group is Mission planning; that is, how Orion gets to where it is supposed to go knowing Orion’s capabilities, her team goes over the thermal and power profiles that they have, are the solar arrays sized correctly so that if they do a specific “burn” do they have to turn equipment off to balance the power. They do all the power and thermal management; the Con ops—putting all the pieces together—the timeline. She interacts with the Flight Ops Division which will actually control things and her team needs to be sure that their expectations are being met. They supply all the integration pieces to put this together.

    So when you take all of the electronics on board and turn them on, what has to be on, what is the redundancy management scheme, do they operate everything on? They have 4 computers—do they keep 4 on all the time or can they power down 2 of them when there is not much going on to conserve power or charge batteries faster—that’s systems management. Same thing with thermal, they need to be sure that the attitudes they are choosing provide the proper heat rejection from the radiators, as well as balance the solar demands for getting power on the solar arrays. It’s the trade-off between everything regarding how they are going to fly the vehicle.

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    NASA Is Creating a Virtual Reality Mission To Mars
    http://science.slashdot.org/story/15/12/21/2235210/nasa-is-creating-a-virtual-reality-mission-to-mars

    The Mars 2030 Experience’ is part of NASA’s ongoing efforts to build public support in a real manned mission to the Red Planet. Partnering with FUSION to produce the experience, NASA wants the mission to simulate life as one of the first astronauts on Mars. Incorporating research directly from NASA and MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics PhD candidate Sydney Do, the VR experience

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Astrobotic technology: NASA’s doorway to Mars exploration
    http://www.edn.com/design/analog/4441286/Astrobotic-technology–NASA-s-doorway-to-Mars-exploration?_mc=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_analog_20160128&cid=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_analog_20160128&elq=161907a687234e9885955bae863f7fb7&elqCampaignId=26711&elqaid=30554&elqat=1&elqTrackId=d39e8db9a6bc43bab44d69ca4795f75f

    NASA’s goal to land a manned expedition on Mars via the Orion program is still about 20 years away. The astronauts who will land on Mars are probably right now in grammar school.

    Once they get to Mars, after a nine month journey from Earth through the high radiation Van Allen Belt, some of the immense challenges will be the poisonous atmosphere to Earthlings, and the high radiation levels on the Red Planet would ultimately cause cancer, brain damage and finally end their lives in a painful, violent death due to radiation poisoning.

    A possible solution for prolonged human stays on Mars could be the shelter provided by the billions of years old underground lava tubes, some 100 meters in depth, originally created by hot, molten lava. Orbital photographic and remote sensing surveys of the Moon and Mars show evidence of these lava tube formations. There will most likely be no chance for any conventional radio communication down there so robotic rovers would not work.

    Astrobotic

    NASA awarded a $125,000 contract to Carnegie Mellon University and its spinoff Astrobotic Technology to develop an autonomous drone that will be able to effectively move through the lava tubes easily and record huge amounts of video and other data like temperature, atmosphere, depth and more.

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Astrobotic technology: NASA’s doorway to Mars exploration
    http://www.edn.com/design/analog/4441286/Astrobotic-technology–NASA-s-doorway-to-Mars-exploration?_mc=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_today_20160201&cid=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_today_20160201&elq=48199414c3614221b155e0b546e6d14f&elqCampaignId=26773&elqaid=30614&elqat=1&elqTrackId=be3a26cf59a24571ba9b87efcf7a62aa

    NASA’s goal to land a manned expedition on Mars via the Orion program is still about 20 years away. The astronauts who will land on Mars are probably right now in grammar school.

    Once they get to Mars, after a nine month journey from Earth through the high radiation Van Allen Belt, some of the immense challenges will be the poisonous atmosphere to Earthlings, and the high radiation levels on the Red Planet would ultimately cause cancer, brain damage and finally end their lives in a painful, violent death due to radiation poisoning.

    A possible solution for prolonged human stays on Mars could be the shelter provided by the billions of years old underground lava tubes, some 100 meters in depth, originally created by hot, molten lava. Orbital photographic and remote sensing surveys of the Moon and Mars show evidence of these lava tube formations. There will most likely be no chance for any conventional radio communication down there so robotic rovers would not work.

    NASA awarded a $125,000 contract to Carnegie Mellon University and its spinoff Astrobotic Technology to develop an autonomous drone that will be able to effectively move through the lava tubes easily and record huge amounts of video and other data like temperature, atmosphere, depth and more.

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Curiosity Rover Enters Precautionary Safe Mode
    https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/curiosity-rover-enters-precautionary-safe-mode

    The team operating NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is taking steps to return the rover to full activity following a precautionary stand-down over the Fourth of July weekend.

    Curiosity is now communicating with ground controllers and is stable. The rover put itself into safe mode on July 2, ceasing most activities other than keeping itself healthy and following a prescribed sequence for resuming communications.

    Engineers are working to determine the cause of safe-mode entry. Preliminary information indicates an unexpected mismatch between camera software and data-processing software in the main computer. The near-term steps toward resuming full activities begin with requesting more diagnostic information from Curiosity.

    Curiosity has entered safe mode three times previously, all during 2013.

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    NASA Publishes a Thousand Photos of Mars
    https://science.slashdot.org/story/16/08/10/016204/nasa-publishes-a-thousand-photos-of-mars

    NASA has released a huge number of high-resolution photos of Mars captured from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRise camera, which has been capturing images of the planet since 2005. The latest dump consists of over a thousand images that can familiarize you with the red planet’s many craters, impact sites, dunes, mountains, ice caps and other features. You can view every single photo captured on HiRise’s official website.

    Popular Science mentions that every 26 months or so, Mars and the sun are on the opposite sides of the Earth, allowing MRO to transmit a massive amount of photos from the planet’s surface.

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    NASA publishes a thousand photos of Mars
    They were taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRise camera.
    https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/09/nasa-hirise-photos-mars/

    NASA releasing high-res photos of the Martian surface is nothing unusual: the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRise camera has been capturing the planet on cam since 2005. This latest image dump, however, is particularly huge: it consists of over a thousand images that can familiarize you with the red planet’s many craters, impact sites, dunes, mountains, ice caps and other features. Alfred McEwen, director of the Planetary Image Research Laboratory, told Popular Science that the satellite was able to take tons of pictures and send them back quickly thanks to a couple of factors.

    See, every 26 months, Mars and the sun are on the opposites sides of the Earth, giving MRO a strong, unobstructed connection to its ground team for a few weeks. That allows the satellite to beam a hefty amount of data back home.

    http://www.uahirise.org/katalogos.php?page=1

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Curiosity rover likes big buttes but it cannot lie around
    Mars’ layered rocks look just like the American southwest, says Yanquiphile NASA
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/09/12/curiosity_murray_buttes/

    Mars looks just like the American southwest, says NASA after landing images of some big buttes on Mars.

    The Curiosity rover has spent the last few weeks in a region of Mars called “Murray Buttes” that apparently reveals “The layered geologic past of Mars”.

    Mars Rover Views Spectacular Layered Rock Formations
    http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1932

    “Curiosity’s science team has been just thrilled to go on this road trip through a bit of the American desert Southwest on Mars,” said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

    On Mount Sharp, Curiosity is investigating how and when the habitable ancient conditions known from the mission’s earlier findings evolved into conditions drier and less favorable for life.

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    LAKE OF frozen WATER THE SIZE OF NEW MEXICO FOUND ON MARS – NASA
    Boffins spot wealth of H2-oh-yeah just waiting to be tapped
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/11/22/nasa_finds_ice_under_martian_surface/

    Settling on Mars may not be as difficult as first feared. NASA scientists have discovered a huge deposit of water ice just under the surface of the Red Planet.

    The ice has been found in the Utopia Planitia region of the planet, a large depression in the northern hemisphere formed by a massive impact early in the planet’s history. The ice patch, which is about the size of New Mexico, contains enough water to fill Lake Superior, according to measurements taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

    “The ice deposits in Utopia Planitia aren’t just an exploration resource, they’re also one of the most accessible climate change records on Mars,”

    Reply
  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The First Bug On Mars
    http://hackaday.com/2016/12/25/the-first-bug-on-mars/

    The launch in late 1996 of the Mars Pathfinder mission with its Sojourner rover then was exciting news indeed. Before Spirit, the exceptionally long-lived Opportunity, and the relatively huge Curiosity rover (get a sense of scale from our recent tour of JPL), the little Sojourner operated on the surface of the planet for 85 days, and proved the technology for the rovers that followed.

    In these days of constant online information we’d see every nuance of the operation as it happened, but those of us watching with interest in 1997 missed one of the mission’s dramas. Pathfinder’s lander suffered what is being written up today as the first bug on Mars. When the lander collected Martian weather data, its computer would crash.

    Reply
  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Trump Adds To NASA Budget, Approves Crewed Mission To Mars
    https://science.slashdot.org/story/17/03/21/2017220/trump-adds-to-nasa-budget-approves-crewed-mission-to-mars?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Slashdot%2Fslashdot%2Fto+%28%28Title%29Slashdot+%28rdf%29%29

    President Donald Trump signed a law on Tuesday authorizing funding for a crewed NASA mission to Mars. The new bill (S.442) adds a crewed mission to the red planet as a key NASA objective and authorizes the space agency to direct test human space flight programs that will enable more crewed exploration in deep space. The space agency has $19.5 billion in funding for the 2018 fiscal year, which starts this October.

    Reply

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