Curiosity (rover)

Curiosity Self-Portrait at 'Big Sky' Drilling Site.jpg
Self-portrait of Curiosity located at the foothill of Mount Sharp (October 6, 2015)
Mission type Mars rover
Operator NASA
COSPAR ID 2011-070A
no. 37936
Mission duration Primary: 668 sols (687 days)
Current: 1995 sols (2050 days) since landing [1]
Spacecraft properties
Dry mass Rover only: 899 kg (1,982 lb) [2]
Start of mission
Launch date November 26, 2011, 15:02:00 (2011-11-26UTC15:02Z) UTC [3] [4] [5]
Rocket Atlas V 541 (AV-028)
Launch site Cape Canaveral LC-41 [6]
Orbital parameters
Reference system Heliocentric (transfer)
Mars rover
Spacecraft component Rover
Landing date August 6, 2012, 05:17:57 UTC SCET [7] [8]
MSD 49269 05:53:28 AMT
Landing site Aeolis Palus (" Bradbury Landing" [9]) in Gale Crater
(4°35′22″S 137°26′30″E / 4°35′22″S 137°26′30″E / Bradbury Landing)) [10] [11]
Distance covered 18.13 km (11.27 mi) [12]
as of 11 February 2018
Mars rovers (NASA)
Mars 2020 →

Curiosity is a car-sized rover designed to explore Gale Crater on Mars as part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL). [3] Curiosity was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011, at 15:02 UTC aboard the MSL spacecraft and landed on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on Mars on August 6, 2012, 05:17 UTC. [7] [8] [13] The Bradbury Landing site was less than 2.4 km (1.5 mi) from the center of the rover's touchdown target after a 560 million km (350 million mi) journey. [9] [14] The rover's goals include an investigation of the Martian climate and geology; assessment of whether the selected field site inside Gale Crater has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, including investigation of the role of water; and planetary habitability studies in preparation for human exploration. [15] [16]

In December 2012, Curiosity's two-year mission was extended indefinitely. [17] On August 5, 2017, NASA celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Curiosity rover landing and related exploratory accomplishments on the planet Mars. [18] [19]

Curiosity's design will serve as the basis for the planned Mars 2020 rover. As of March 18, 2018, Curiosity has been on Mars for 1995 sols (2050 total days) since landing on August 6, 2012. (See current status.)

Goals and objectives

As established by the Mars Exploration Program, the main scientific goals of the MSL mission are to help determine whether Mars could ever have supported life, as well as determining the role of water, and to study the climate and geology of Mars. [15] [16] The mission will also help prepare for human exploration. [16] To contribute to these goals, MSL has eight main scientific objectives: [20]

  1. Determine the nature and inventory of organic carbon compounds
  2. Investigate the chemical building blocks of life (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur)
  3. Identify features that may represent the effects of biological processes ( biosignatures and biomolecules)
Geological and geochemical
  1. Investigate the chemical, isotopic, and mineralogical composition of the Martian surface and near-surface geological materials
  2. Interpret the processes that have formed and modified rocks and soils
Planetary process
  1. Assess long-timescale (i.e., 4-billion-year) Martian atmospheric evolution processes
  2. Determine present state, distribution, and cycling of water and carbon dioxide
Surface radiation
  1. Characterize the broad spectrum of surface radiation, including galactic and cosmic radiation, solar proton events and secondary neutrons. As part of its exploration, it also measured the radiation exposure in the interior of the spacecraft as it traveled to Mars, and it is continuing radiation measurements as it explores the surface of Mars. This data would be important for a future manned mission. [21]

About one year into the surface mission, and having assessed that ancient Mars could have been hospitable to microbial life, the MSL mission objectives evolved to developing predictive models for the preservation process of organic compounds and biomolecules; a branch of paleontology called taphonomy. [22]

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Simple English: Curiosity rover
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