Here’s a look at what the Curiosity team has planned for the rover this week. Team member Jessica Samuels provides an update on developments and status of the mission now that it’s preparing to explore Gale Crater. Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on NASA’s Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks’ elemental composition from a distance, are the first of their kind on Mars. Curiosity will use a drill and scoop, which are located at the end of its robotic arm, to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into the rover’s analytical laboratory instruments.
Curiosity received “brain transplant” (more info on that here) — or updated software, to help it travel with better efficiency and safety to explore and investigate Gale Crater over the next two years.
NASA is holding a news briefing later today, and we’ll provide more updates on what the team has in store for Curiosity’s explorations.
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.