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Curiosity rover being landed on Mars on August 6

Vyom

The Power of x480
Staff member
Admin
Mars rover Curiosity will see red planet like never before


(Space.com) The huge NASA rover slated to land on Mars Sunday night (Aug. 5) is expected to give scientists and laypeople alike some amazing views of the Red Planet.

The 1-ton Curiosity rover, the heart of NASA's $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory mission, will try to determine if Earth's neighbor is, or ever was, capable of supporting microbial life. To help address this question, the six-wheeled robot is carrying 10 science instruments -- and a wealth of high-tech camera gear.

Like its older Mars rover siblings Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity comes equipped with cameras mounted on a head-like stalk (called the Remote Sensing Mast, or RSM), providing a point of view similar to what a person might experience. Unlike previous rovers, however, Curiosity's imaging system -- called Mastcam -- has features that will offer a whole new look at Mars.

Developed by the San Diego company Malin Space Science Systems, Mastcam is composed of two separate cameras that sit side by side, not unlike a pair of eyes, just below the ChemCam instrument on Curiosity's "head." Mastcam will allow color images to be captured directly.

curiosity-rover-cbs620.jpg

"It will take color in the same way as a consumer digital camera," said Michael Ravine, advanced projects manager at Malin. "It's as 'true' as your phone camera."

In addition, Mastcam can capture stereoscopic images in infrared, plus a whole range of wavelengths that are of importance to scientific goals.

Both cameras are fixed-length; zoom motors may be common in even the cheapest point-and-shoot digital cameras, but in a spacecraft they would have added extra fuel-guzzling mass.

Still, one of the cameras has a focal length of 100 millimeters (4 inches) that can resolve objects a couple of inches across at 1,000 feet (300 meters). "I think that qualifies as telephoto," Ravine said.

Scientists no longer will have to assemble time-lapse footage from individual Mars images, for Mastcam also can take high-definition video. It will capture 720p color video at six frames per second.

"In the real world that's not quite video, but compared to time-lapse images spaced 45 seconds apart, it's close enough," Ravine said.

And Mastcam has the ability to store its own data. With 8 gigabytes of internal memory, Mastcam can hold 5,500 raw images, which can be compressed on the fly or just before transmission back to Earth.

Before Mastcam lets those on Earth see what Curiosity sees on its exploration, another state-of-the-art imaging system will help with a crucial part of the Mars Science Laboratory mission: the landing.

Curiosity's "seven minutes of terror" landing sequence is the most complex Red Planet touchdown ever attempted, as the rover will be lowered to the surface on cables by a rocket-powered "sky crane."

This maneuver consists of many steps that must happen exactly right and perfectly in sequence, including the firing of 76 pyrotechnic devices. Adding to the difficulty is the relatively unknown terrain at Curiosity's landing site, within the Gale Crater.

Researchers have studied images of the 96-mile-wide (154 kilometers) crater taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, but small-scale features at Gale such as rocks and loose debris will have to be contended with. To help with this, Curiosity is equipped with the Mars Descent Imager, or MARDI.

A downward-facing camera mounted beneath the rover, MARDI will image the ground beneath Curiosity as the rover descends to the surface, giving an aerial view of the surrounding region, as well as after the rover touches down.

Like Mastcam, MARDI (also developed by Malin) will store high-definition RGB color images in an internal 8-gigabyte buffer. Many of its first shots are likely to be blurred due to vibration as the rover descends. Even so, MARDI should capture the first-ever video-like sequence of an actual Mars landing, Ravine said.

"We're looking forward to seeing that," he said.

Data acquired by MARDI will be used to determine exactly where Curiosity has landed, as well as provide an "astronaut's-eye view" of Mars - although in this case the astronaut has six wheels and weighs 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms).
Source: Mars rover Curiosity will see red planet like never before - CBS News

NASA TV, to watch the live telecast of the launch: NASA - NASA TV

TL;DR:

Watch Live on NASA TV the Landing of Curiosity, the car-size, one-ton rover on Mars at around 11:00 AM IST on August 6. The telecast will start from around 07:00 AM IST on August 6 and will continue till 13:30 IST. The landing will take place around 11:00 AM IST. You can watch the entry into the Mars atmosphere and if landing is successful, live pictures are expected from the surface of Mars too.

The landing will mark the beginning of a two-year prime mission to investigate one of the most intriguing places on Mars.
Watch launch live at: NASA - NASA TV
 

Krow

Crowman
My curiosity is peaking. Looking forward to manned missions. About time we started colonising the moon at least. Imagine a fancy lunar resort. :cool:
 
OP
Vyom

Vyom

The Power of x480
Staff member
Admin
Whoa! I had started to feel that there are no "space" enthusiast amidst TDF! :p

Me is excited too! Thanks for the countdown sygeek. Only 1 day and 10 hours to go!! :D
 

clmlbx

Technomancer
there is big difference in sending a probe and man in space.. probe is easy so it is on.. and if everything goes on by schedule then in 2016 we will have our first manned mission to space..

Whoa! I had started to feel that there are no "space" enthusiast amidst TDF! :p

Me is excited too! Thanks for the countdown sygeek. Only 1 day and 10 hours to go!! :D

man I am "space" enthusiast.. damn waiting to buy my first good telescope.. sadly it won't happen for next couple of years at least :( but will do.. .. I believe who ever is fan of sci-fi genre are space enthusiast :grin:
 

Krow

Crowman
India, China, USA, what difference does it make? As long as its someone from Earth, I'm happy. Its mankind we are talking about. Stop worrying about silly nationalities here.
 

maxtor

Journeyman
I think in 10-20 years there will be people living in Mars in a conditioned environment. There is already talk of sening astronauts on an entire life mission becase of the long time and money being spend on bringing them back.
 

Anorion

Sith Lord
Staff member
Admin
machines are far more economical than men for sending to space
antartica, the seas, supertall skyscrapers, and greenland are just some places we can establish permanent settlements on instead of mars
 

Desmond

Destroy Erase Improve
Staff member
Admin
The live stream has begun.....

NASA - NASA TV

Update : It has landed!!! Watching Live stream.

Update : First image received. A 64x64 Thumbnail. Awaiting higher resolution image.
 

Desmond

Destroy Erase Improve
Staff member
Admin
Update : First high res image arrives. Depicting one of the wheels on the surface of mars.

http://twitpic.com/ag230k

Update : Second high res image, depicting the shadow of the rover arrives.

Update : Stopped watching before I get fired from my job. Someone please give updates.
 
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