“Curiosity will soon have a different patch of ground beneath it.”

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Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the 900kg rover Curiosity, may have damaged one of two sets of wind sensors in its Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) during its dramatic landing on Mars, but it will still be providing daily weather reports from the Red Planet.

And, as a JPL/Nasa press release noted yesterday – with moving images

Curiosity will soon have a different patch of ground beneath it. Today, the six-wheeled rover wiggled its four corner wheels side to side for the first time on Mars, as a test of the steering actuators on those wheels.  This was critical preparation for Curiosity’s first drive on Mars.

“Late tonight, we plan to send Curiosity the commands for doing our first drive tomorrow,” said Curiosity Mission Manager Michael Watkins of JPL.

Until then, here’s Adam Steltzner, Entry, Descent & Landing Phase Lead, JPL, talking Curiosity down to the surface of Mars with a computer simulation from NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System program and images from Curiosity’s Mars Descent Imager.  Video from JPL News

Update  It was only a short test drive, but Curiosity has left its first wheel tracks on Mars.

Here’s a close-up of those wheel tracks

And from the JPL/Nasa press release

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has begun driving from its landing site, which scientists announced today they have named for the late author Ray Bradbury.

Making its first movement on the Martian surface, Curiosity’s drive combined forward, turn and reverse segments. This placed the rover roughly 20 feet (6 meters) from the spot where it landed 16 days ago.

NASA has approved the Curiosity science team’s choice to name the landing ground for the influential author, who was born 92 years ago today and died this year. The location where Curiosity touched down is now called Bradbury Landing.

“This was not a difficult choice for the science team,” said Michael Meyer, NASA program scientist for Curiosity. “Many of us and millions of other readers were inspired in our lives by stories Ray Bradbury wrote to dream of the possibility of life on Mars.”

Today’s drive confirmed the health of Curiosity’s mobility system and produced the rover’s first wheel tracks on Mars, documented in images taken after the drive. During a news conference today at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., the mission’s lead rover driver, Matt Heverly, showed an animation derived from visualization software used for planning the first drive.

“We have a fully functioning mobility system with lots of amazing exploration ahead,” Heverly said.

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  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Fascinating as the holiday vids from Gale Crater undoubtedly are, I was rather hoping that Pete Baker would explain whether or not “dark matter” has been discovered. [Yes, I know a variant form is found — in place of brain cells — between the ears of most public personalities. That's not merely a NI phenomenon.]

    Quite frankly, not for the first time, I’m baffled by the terminology in this learned paper; and would be grateful if a “for Dummies” version was available.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    In passing, when did Curiosity (admitting it’s la Curiosité in my O-level French) acquire Anglo-US gender?

    I see we have here: Nasa’s Matt Heverly: “I’m pleased to report that today Curiosity had her first successful drive on Mars”. Just as well, then, it’s not the Arabian desert, huh?

    Can Mr Baker assure us there’s nothing genderist about this.

  • Mister_Joe

    Malcolm,

    It’s a (space)ship. Of course, she’s female. :-)

  • Pete Baker

    Update It was only a short test drive, but Curiosity has left its first wheel tracks on Mars.

    Here’s a close-up of those wheel tracks

    And from the JPL/Nasa press release

    NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has begun driving from its landing site, which scientists announced today they have named for the late author Ray Bradbury.

    Making its first movement on the Martian surface, Curiosity’s drive combined forward, turn and reverse segments. This placed the rover roughly 20 feet (6 meters) from the spot where it landed 16 days ago.

    NASA has approved the Curiosity science team’s choice to name the landing ground for the influential author, who was born 92 years ago today and died this year. The location where Curiosity touched down is now called Bradbury Landing.

    “This was not a difficult choice for the science team,” said Michael Meyer, NASA program scientist for Curiosity. “Many of us and millions of other readers were inspired in our lives by stories Ray Bradbury wrote to dream of the possibility of life on Mars.”

    Today’s drive confirmed the health of Curiosity’s mobility system and produced the rover’s first wheel tracks on Mars, documented in images taken after the drive. During a news conference today at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., the mission’s lead rover driver, Matt Heverly, showed an animation derived from visualization software used for planning the first drive.

    “We have a fully functioning mobility system with lots of amazing exploration ahead,” Heverly said.