Aug 08, 2012
Mars rover Curiosity – so far, so goodBack
Environment|Jet Propulsion Laboratory|Nuclear|Power|System|Systems|Technology|United States|USD|California Institute Of Technology|Jet Propulsion Laboratory|Systems|Gale Crater|Tiaan Strydom|Operations|Laser|Radiation|Remote Sensing
© Reuse this
During Wednesday, the rover mission control team will raise Curiosity’s mast, which carries a camera and laser turret mounting seven of its 17 cameras and which will give a human-scale view and will be used for navigation and remote sensing. After being raised and checked out, the turret will be rotated to allow the rover’s Navcam navigation cameras to do a 360˚ pan.
(The laser will be used to study rocks at a distance. It will be used to vaporise a tiny part of interesting rocks, with this vapour then being analysed to determine whether they are worth closer analysis.)
The high-gain antenna, which allows direct communication with Earth, and which was deployed on Tuesday, will have it pointing towards our world adjusted. Curiosity will communicate with Earth both directly through its high gain antenna and, when Earth is below the rover’s horizon, indirectly, using Nasa spacecraft already orbiting Mars (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and, as a backup, Mars Odyssey) as relay platforms.
Another camera, designated Mastcam, will be calibrated using a target carried by Curiosity. The rover has already been sending imagery home using its Mars Hand Lens Imager, or Mahli, and has been collecting scientific data using its Radiation Assessment Detector. Its Rover Environment Monitoring System has also started to operate.
Curiosity’s primary mission is to determine if the right conditions to support life ever existed on Mars. The Aeolis Mons has many layers of different rocks, making examination and analysis relatively easy.
The rover has a designed minimum operational life of at least 24 Earth months (or one Martian year), but its nuclear power plant (which uses plutonium 238 dioxide to produce electricity) should last 14 years. So there is very good chance Curiosity will emulate its predecessors Spirit and Opportunity, and far outlive its predicted life span. Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars in 2004 and were expected to last for three months, but Spirit only failed in 2010 and Opportunity is still operating.
The Curiosity mission is being managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is both a Nasa laboratory and a division of the California Institute of Technology.
The Space Operations Directorate of the South African National Space Agency (Sansa) provided key support to Nasa at the very start of Curiosity’s mission. This came in the form of launch support, as the Mars-bound probe separated from its Atlas V launch rocket over the African continent, back in November 2011.
“We are proud to have been part of this historic event,” said Sansa Space Operations international business manager Tiaan Strydom on Tuesday. “This is one of the most important explorations of space by one of the most advanced space-faring nations in the world; and as Sansa we celebrate this event with the rest of humanity.”
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter© Reuse this
To subscribe email email@example.com or click here
To advertise email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here
Updated 6 hours ago The Competition Tribunal on Friday gave a conditional go-ahead for mobile operators Cell C, MTN and Vodacom to buy out their respective subscriber bases, as South Africa’s last independent service provider Altech Autopage calls it a day. The Allied Electronics...
Updated 6 hours ago The drought in Southern Africa could become one of the worst on record should the current below-normal rainfall continue, the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme said this week. The El Niño conditions presently being experienced in the region had resulted in a...
Updated 6 hours ago Kelibone Masiyane has been appointed the new MD of PPC Zimbabwe, succeeding Njombo Lekula, who had recently been redeployed as MD of PPC’s international operations. Masiyane would be supported by new PPC commercial director Iain Sheasby and new PPC GM of finance...
Recent Research Reports
Construction 2016: A review of South Africa's construction industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2016 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; key participants; local demand; geographic diversification; corporate activity; black economic...
Energy Roundup – February 2016 (PDF Report)
The February 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for December 2015 and January 2016 and includes details of a Government Gazette notice that confirms Cabinet’s decision to move ahead with the 9 600 MW nuclear procurement programme; State-owned power...
Energy Roundup - December 2015 (PDF Report)
The December 2015 roundup includes details of State-owned utility Eskom’s application to claw back R22.8-billion; South Africa’s ranking as an investment destination for renewable energy; and a nuclear expert’s thoughts on reactor designs for South Africa’s nuclear...
Water 2015: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2015 Report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context but also in the African and global context in terms of supply and demand, water stress and insecurity, and access to water and sanitation, besides others.
Input Sector Review: Pumps 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2015 Input Sector Review on Pumps provides an overview of South Africa’s pumps industry with particular focus on pump manufacture and supply, aftermarket services, marketing strategies, local and export demand, imports, sector support, investment...
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
This Week's Magazine
Lifting, transporting, installing and ballasting solutions provider Ale has expanded its global fleet of trailers and invested in the latest range of widening trailers that can be mechanically widened from 3 m to the desired width for any project. Ale ordered 48 axle...
The market for the BMW 7 Series in South Africa differs quite significantly from the rest of the world. China, the US and the Middle East almost exclusively buy the long-wheel-base version, using the German manufacturer’s luxury high-end sedan as a chaffeur-driven...
January new-vehicle sales fell by 6.9%, to 48 615 units, compared with the same month last year. Statistics released by the Department of Trade and Industry show that the domestic new passenger-car market declined by 6.1%, to 34 936 units, compared with 12 months ago.
Information technology (IT) equipment and infrastructure multinational Dell is providing open infrastructure systems for clients so that they can use any systems, including innovative new systems, that suit their business needs, says Dell Europe, Middle East and...
South Africa’s State-owned defence industrial group, Denel, has set up another international partnership, based in Hong Kong. This new subsidiary is Denel Asia and it is a joint venture (JV) with South African private sector company VR Laser.