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Posts Tagged ‘Red Planet’

NASA seeing red: $2.5 billion Mars rover to dig for proof of life

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 8, 2012

An artist's conception of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover. (AFP Photo / NASA)

An artist’s conception of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover. (AFP Photo / NASA)

NASA’s make-or-break Mars mission has entered its landing phase on Monday morning. While the Curiosity rover attempts to land using a never-attempted sky crane, engineers back on Earth have no control over the pre-programmed sequence.

The touchdown is scheduled for 5:31 GMT.

NASA engineers will have to wait at least 14 minutes before learning the fate of Curiosity. That is if the Odyssey orbiter circling Mars is at the right spot in the sky to catch the rover’s signal. If not, it could take up to eight hours to get the final answer on the rover’s fate.

The $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory “could arguably be the most important event in the history of planetary exploration,” said Doug McCuistion, director of Mars exploration at NASA’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

The trickiest part of the mission, currently on its 8 months since launching in 2011, is the landing. Not only does it involve delivering the NASA’s largest-ever one-ton payload safely to the Martian surface, it will also attempt a new kind of landing sequence involving a guided entry, a supersonic 16-meter parachute, firing eight rocket thrusters during the descent and, finally, the sky crane.

Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Lead Flight Director David Oh speaks to members of the media in the Mission Control room ahead of the landing of the Mars rover Curiosity. (AFP Photo / Robyn Beck)
Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Lead Flight Director David Oh speaks to members of the media in the Mission Control room ahead of the landing of the Mars rover Curiosity. (AFP Photo / Robyn Beck)

A crane hovering some seven meters in the sky after touchdown will lower Curiosity to the surface of Mars. The approach was chosen over a traditional lander or inflatable cushioning due to the size of the rover. The sky crane trick avoids risks like tilting the platform, or mechanical damage from the clouds of dust and debris kicked up by rocket engines. But the sky crane technology couldn’t be fully field-tested on Earth, since it was designed for the atmosphere and gravity of Mars. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mars Rover Landing: Curiosity Lands Early Monday Morning (RECAP)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 7, 2012

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has touched down on the surface of the Red Planet, completing a 354-million-mile journey, and marking the beginning of a new era in planetary exploration.

President Obama released the following statement immediately after the landing: Read the rest of this entry »

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Mars: ‘Life On The Red Planet Is 99% Certain’ As 1976 Samples Taken By Nasa’s Twin Viking Landers Are Revisted

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 13, 2012

 

New analysis of soil samples taken on a Mars mission in 1976 have revealed evidence of life, a report claims.

The samples, collected by Nasa’s twin Viking Mars landers, were initially thought to show proof of geological activity, but not biological evidence.

But new analysis by researchers at the University of Siena and California’s Keck Institute believe the original experiments may have been flawed and that there was proof of microbial life.

“On the basis of what we’ve done so far, I’d say I’m 99 per cent sure there’s life there,” said Joseph D Miller, associated professor of cell and neurobiology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nasa Launches Giant Rover Into Space To Land On Mars

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 26, 2011

 

Nasa has launched a giant one-tonne rover nicknamed ‘Curiosity’ into space which is due to arrive on Mars in August next year.

The rover, which is tucked inside a capsule, departed from Florida at 10.02am (3.02pm GMT) on an Atlas 5 rocket. The machine will take eight-and-a-half months to reach its destination, touching down on 6 August 2012.

Once landed, the robot will travel Mars to scour soil and rocks for any signs of life. It will look for past or current environments on the Red Planet capable of supporting microbial life.

Nasa expected a communication from the spacecraft around an hour after the machine took off. Experts will then be able to tell if the the machine is still intact and survived the launch. The Atlas capsule flight, travelling at 10km/s, lasted around 45 minutes, after which it ejected the Curiosity rover towards the Martian planet.

The rover is estimated to land at a deep depression on Mars called Gale Crater, which according to the BBC, contains a central mountain rising 5km above the plain. The site was chosen due to previous pictures of sediments which would have been deposited by large volumes of water.

The rover, also known as Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), is part of a $2.5bn (£1.6bn) two-year mission to study rocks, soils and atmosphere in the crater.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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