The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

Simulating a Curious Landing

The next generation Mars rover, named Curiosity, is scheduled to launch later this year.  Construction is nearing the final phases and lots of tests are being conducted on Curiosity.  The latest test is a test of the landing system.  JPL released a short video of the test.

Curiosity can’t use the airbag system of previous rovers as it is too big and heavy, hence the sky crane concept.  Curiosity will be the first spacecraft to use this system so the testing has to be rigorous.  You can see from the video, a platform has small rockets on it that hovers while the rover is lowered to the surface.  The rockets won’t be able to make this craft hover for long since they carry very limited fuel so they only get one shot at it.  Everything has to work perfectly the first time without intervention from us on Earth (Mars is much too far away…round trip light travel time varies from about 8 minutes to over 20 minutes depending on their positions in their respective orbits).

If you want to watch curiosity under construction, JPL has a “Curiosity Cam“.

January 20, 2011 - Posted by | exploration, NASA, Solar Eclipse

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: