Curiosity rover got its piece of Gale Carter this August 6. After its successful launch from the Cape Canaveral on November 26 last year, Curiosity made its way to Mars and got it down at Aeolis Palus in Gale Carter on Mars. Curiosity is a Mars rover from NASA, a part of its Mars Science Laboratory and technically the fourth rover of United States landing the Martian surface.
The goal of Curiosity is to collect much as Martian information, but not limited to the geology, climate, role of water and planetery habitability, researches on chances of life support, mineral composition, biosignature analysis, analysis on the evolution of Martian atmosphere, cosmic radiation, galactic radiation and various other surface radiation, cycling of water and carbon di oxide etc. Most importantly, all these researches to make way for human exploration on Mars.
Weighing 899 Kg (80 Kg of scientific instruments), and in dimensions 9.5 feet long, 8.9 feet wide and with a height 7.2 feet, the Curiosity holds 23% percent of the total mass of Mars Science laboratory spacecraft which put up the rover successfully on Martian surface. It is powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator making use of Plutonium 238, ensuring constant power anytime of the day and any season. Heat rejection systems let Curiosity survive the Martian temperatures which can range from +30 to -127 degree celsius. With it, easy warming up and cooling of components according to the conditions it goes through.
Two computers installed known by the name RCE(Rover Computer Element) featuring radiation hardened memory to survive and work along extreme radiation from space and power-off cycles, then 256 Kb of EEPROM(Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory), 256MB DRAM and 2 Gb flash memory. Both the computers makes use of RAD750 CPU, capable to do 400 million instructions per second and one out of the two RCE is configured as the main computer and the other stays a backup to take over on the main computer on any fails.
Curiosity communicates with Earth by making use of an X-band transmitter and receiver, and the UHF Electra-Lite software-defined radio help converse with Mars orbiters. The main path of data return with Earth is expected with communication with orbiters as they have got larger antennas and more power. That means faster communication, needs about 14 minutes, 6 seconds for signals to travel forth Earth and Mars. It directly communicates with Earth at transfer rates up to 32 kbit/s, but bulk of data is relayed through Mars orbiters and each orbiter can only communicate with Curiosity up to eight minutes each day.
Equipped with mobility systems like rocker-bogie suspension enabled wheels, six in number, each 20 inch in diameter. The suspension systems it got served as the landing gear, other features of the wheels include the ability to climb soft sand and scrambling over rocks, independent steering for rear and front wheels. The vehicle is designed to withstand up to 50 degrees tilt with no overturning, though the sensors it got would limit the tilt to not go over 30 degrees. It got a ground clearance of 24 inch and ability to roll over obstacles up to 26 inch in height. Curiosity can reach a maximum terrain-transverse speed of about 200 m per day based on various factors including power levels, terrain difficulty, slippage and visibility when it is on auto navigation.
On Board Curiosity carries a range of gadgets, including the MastCam system- that helps with multiple spectra, true color imaging with 2 cameras, ChemCam-a suite of remote sensing instruments, Navcams-uses visible light to capture stereoscopic 3D imagery, Rover Environmental Monitoring Station- to measure Martian environment, Hazard Avoidance Cameras-for autonomous hazard avoidance.
The Mars Hand Lens Imager is the robotic arm,of curiosity, Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer- to determine elemental composition of samples, CheMin-to identify and quantify minerals on Mars, SAM(Sample analysis at Mars)- to analyze organics and gases from solid and atmospheric samples, RAD(Radiation assessment detector)-characterize the radiation environment, DAN(Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons)-for measuring hydrogen or ice and water at or near the Martian surface, MARDI(Mars Descent Imager)-mapping of surrounding terrain and the location of landing.