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Curiosity Rover

The Curiosity rover is a car-sized, robotic rover exploring Gale Crater on Mars, as part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL). A Mars rover is an automated motor vehicle which propels itself across the surface of the planet Mars after landing Rovers have several advantages over stationary landers: they examine more territory, they can be directed to interesting features, they can place themselves in sunny positions to weather winter months and they can advance the knowledge of how to perform very remote robotic vehicle control. There have been four successful Mars rovers, all of them robotically operated. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory managed the Mars Pathfinder mission with its Sojourner rover. It currently manages the Mars Exploration Rover mission with its two rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, and also the Curiosity, which is part of the Mars Science Laboratory mission. Curiosity was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011 at 10:02 EST aboard the MSL spacecraft and successfully landed on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on Mars on August 6, 2012, 05:17 .The Bradbury Landing site was less than 2.4 km (1.5 mi) from the center of the rover's touchdown target after a 563,000,000 km (350,000,000 mi) journey. The rover's goals include investigation of the Martian climate, geology, and whether Mars could have ever supported life, including investigation of the role of water and planetary habitability, as well as preparation for future human exploration.

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. The mission will also help prepare for human exploration. Attempting these goals, the Curiosity rover has eight main scientific objectives 1. Determine the nature and inventory of organic carbon compounds 2. Inventory the chemical building blocks of life (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, and sulfur) 3. Identify features that may represent the effects of biological processes (biosignatures) 4. Investigate the chemical, isotopic, and mineralogical composition of the Martian surface and near-surface geological materials

5. 6. 7. 8.

Interpret the processes that have formed and modified rocks and soils Assess long-timescale (i.e., 4-billion-year) Martian atmospheric evolution processes Determine present state, distribution, and cycling of water and carbon dioxide Characterize the broad spectrum of surface radiation, including galactic radiation, cosmic radiation, solar proton events and secondary neutrons

The general sample analysis strategy begins with high resolution cameras to look for features of interest. If a particular surface is of interest, Curiosity can vaporize a small portion of it with an infrared laser and examine the resulting spectra signature to query the rock's elemental composition. If that signature is intriguing, the rover will use its long arm to swing over a microscope and an X-ray spectrometer to take a closer look. If the specimen warrants further analysis, Curiosity can drill into the boulder and deliver a powdered sample to the analytical laboratory (SAM) inside the rover that has a limit of 74 sample cups. The Mast Cam, Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), and Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) cameras were developed by Malin Space Science Systems and they all share common design components, such as on-board electronic imaging processing boxes, 16001200 CCDs, and a RGB Bayer pattern filter. It has 17 cameras: HazCams (8), Navcams (4), Mast Cams (2), MAHLI (1), MARDI(1), and Chem. Cam (1).

Robotic arm
The turret at the end of the robotic arm holds five devices. The rover has a 2.1 m (6.9 ft) long arm with a cross-shaped turret holding five devices that can spin through a 350-degree turning range. The arm makes use of three joints to extend it forward and to stow it again while driving. It has a mass of 30 kg (66 lb) and its diameter, including the tools mounted on it, is about 60 cm (24 in). Two of the five devices are in-situ or contact instruments known as the X-ray spectrometer (APXS), and the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI camera). The remaining three are associated with sample acquisition and sample preparation functions: a percussion drill, a brush, and mechanisms for scooping, sieving and portioning samples of powdered rock and soil. The diameter of the hole in a rock after drilling is 1.6 cm and up to 5 cm deep. The drill carries two spare bits. The rover's arm and turret system can place the APXS and MAHLI on their respective targets, and also obtain powdered sample from rock interiors, and deliver them to the SAM and CheMin analyzers inside the rover.

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