Curiosity to land on Mars. Article: click hereAlthough at first glance the mission seems a lot like the others, it is bigger and more complex than ever. Are Americans even aware that this spacecraft is hurtling toward Mars and about to land and explore our neighboring planet? Or does the public need new territory as opposed to advancing science and studying a place we have already visited? Do Americans feel threatened by the new competition from Europe and China? Is it a blow to national pride that we rely solely on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to shuttle humans and much of the supplies to the International Space Station and back? I remember the Viking missions of the 1970s, then the Pathfinder in 1996 and the Odyssey in 2001. (although I did have to look up the years of those missions) The Soviet Union was actually the first to send a ship to the planet, which crashed in 1960 and Japan and the European Union have also done some exploring, and now the Chinese are also giving it a go.
Spacecraft to Mars: http://starryskies.com/solar_system/mars/spacecraft.html
Curiosity is bigger and better, but is it exciting for the average American? One big problem facing NASA is where else do we go and explore? The immense distances just in our own solar system are mind boggling and tough to even comprehend. We have many amazing minds working on these missions and we continue to learn and improve technology.
Hubble Space Telescope- In my opinion,the Hubble Space Telescope is one of the best things we have done is space and Ultra Deep Field is some good proof of how important it has been to broaden our horizons. The image was the deepest image ever taken by humans, was taken in a dark portion of the sky, and looked back some 13 billion years.
About Ultra Deep Field- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubble_Ultra-Deep_Field
The image was taken from an area equal to roughly one thirteen-millionth of the total area of the sky. Still, over 10,000 galaxies were identified. This could well be one of the biggest human achievements in history.
Back to Curiosity- “… the space agency is tempting fate with a novel approach that involves a big parachute, a specially designed winch, and some very high hopes.” http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57485016-76/how-nasa-tests-an-against-all-odds-mars-rover-landing/
Some facts on Curiosity:
- Mars Science Laboratory rover cost $2.5 billion
- Curiosity is a two-year mission.
- For the first 90 days of the mission, controllers will work together as if each day were 24 hours and 40 minutes long — the approximate length of a Martian day.
- Curiosity rover is big as a car, and contains a nuclear reactor for power. Its landing mechanism, the “sky crane,” represents a new way of delivering a payload onto the Martian surface. For the first time, this rover possesses a laser with which to vaporize rock and conduct experiments. Link: Click Here
Excellent website from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/
NASA continues to dazzle, amaze and spark our Curiosity!