Looking for something to watch to disconnect from the family for a while? Here’s MSL Deputy Project Manager Richard Cook’s excellent lecture “From A to Z: Getting Curiosity to the Launch Pad“, in which he covers the entire process of designing and deploying the Mars Curiosity Rover, now on its way to Mars. Out of all of the amazing facts in this lecture, one that’s stuck with me is – the rover is the size of a Mini Cooper – that’s huge!
The Mars Science Laboratory, “Curiosity”, is the latest project in NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term program of robotic exploration of the Red Planet. Scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in late 2011, and arrive at Mars in August 2012, this rolling laboratory will assess whether Mars ever had an environment capable of supporting microbial life and conditions favorable for preserving clues about life, if it existed. The sky-crane landing system is remarkable, and the massive science suite is the most advanced ever used on a planetary surface, and will help us better understand whether life could have existed on the Red Planet and, if so, where we might look for it in the future. But such capability does not come without challenge. Tonight’s talk will cover some of the trials and tribulations the project members encountered while creating one of the most ambitious missions in history.
And of course, here’s the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, carrying the Curiosity Rover.
Animation of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission