On August 6, 2012, at 05:17 UTC, NASA has successfully landed a Mini-Cooper-sized rover, Curiosity, on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on Mars. The 900-kg rover (899 kg, to be exact, which is 1,982 lbs) is equipped with six 50 cm (20 in) diameter wheels in a rocker-bogie suspension. Notes 1 For the first time in the history of the space exploration, the suspension system also served as landing gear for the vehicle, unlike its smaller predecessors.
Curiosity “soft-landed” (wheels down) on the surface of Mars. But, even it’s called “soft-landing”, the touchdown speed was 0.6739m/s vertical and 0.044m/s horizontal, which could damage the wheels. Plus, while the rover is moving, the wheels should withstand the substantial damage through the rough Martian surface. That’s why the wheels of the Curiosity rover have been one of the biggest technical difficulties encountered on the mission. Notes 2
Continue reading How NASA Reinvented The Wheel
Science has proved itself to be a reliable way to approach all kinds of questions about the physical world. As a scientist, I am led to wonder whether its ability to provide understanding is unlimited. Can it in fact answer all the great questions, the ‘big questions of being’, that occur to us?
Continue reading Why it’s only science that can answer all the big questions
This week, NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover celebrated its 2,000th Martian day (or Sol) on the Red Planet. The nuclear-powered rover was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011, and landed on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on Mars on August 6, 2012. A Mars day is slightly longer than a day here on Earth: a sidereal day is 24 hours, 37 minutes, and 22 seconds (on Earth, it is 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.1 seconds) and a solar day is 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35 seconds (on Earth, 24 hours).
Continue reading Mars Curiosity Rover Celebrates Sol 2,000
NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has published a video that contains highlights of important events and the space agency’s achievements over the year 2017. In the video description, NASA has stated that “2017: A year of groundbreaking discoveries and record-setting exploration at NASA. The Moon became a focal point for the agency, we brought you unique coverage of the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in the U.S. in 99 years, we announced the most Earth-size planets ever found in the habitable zone of a star outside our solar system, and more!”
Continue reading Watch: NASA’s 2017 Highlights
On October 4, 2017, NASA has tested Mars 2020’s supersonic parachute, which will slow down the spacecraft down as it enters the Martian atmosphere at over 12,000 mph (around 19500 km/h, or 5.4 kilometers per second). Mars 2020 is a Mars rover mission by NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The planned launch will be, as the mission’s name suggests, in 2020. The mission will seek signs of ancient Martian life by investigating evidence in place and by caching drilled samples of Martian rocks for potential future return to Earth.
Continue reading Watch: Test Flight #1 of NASA’s Mars 2020 Supersonic Parachute
On February 2016, NASA has released an interactive 360 degrees image of Mars, and you can see it on the popular video uploading site youtube. You can see our neighbor planet’s surface with your own eyes, in ultra HD!
Continue reading NASA Releases 360 Degrees Interactive Image of Mars
The component images of this scene were are taken at downwind face of “Namib Dune” on Dec. 18, 2015, by the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover during the 1,197th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars. They include a portion of Mount Sharp(1) on the horizon. You can use the arrows in the top left, or click and drag your cursor or mouse, to move the view up/down and right/left.