Space

August 7, 2012

MSL and Curiosity: Bringing Mars down to Earth at TNOTS

Dr. Kelly Fast, Mars program scientist at NASA Headquarters, brought the Mars Science Laboratory mission and its curiosity rover down to Earth for visitors during three presentations at the AERO Institute during the City of Palmdale’s Thursday Night on the Square activity Aug. 2.

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory and its Curiosity rover were brought into sharp focus Aug. 2, during three presentations by NASA Mars program scientist Dr. Kelly Fast at the AERO Institute during a Thursday Night on the Square festival in Palmdale, Calif.

More than 125 persons attended Fast’s three presentations, with several hundred more visiting the related exhibits in the adjacent Aerospace Exploration Gallery at the AERO Institute.

A plastic demonstration replica of one of the Curiosity rover’s six wheels was used by NASA’s Mars program scientist Dr. Kelly Fast during her three presentations on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission.

Coming just three days before the anticipated landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, Fast’s three lively presentations detailed both the goals of the Mars Science Laboratory and the challenges of getting Curiosity – which is the size of a small sport utility vehicle – safely on the surface of Mars.

“It’s very difficult to do, but the science payoff is so important to find out more about the environment on Mars … if we ever want to send people there, said Fast. “Are there places on Mars that could support life? (It’s) going to be looking at habitability.

“There’s just so many neat things that can be done on Mars,” she continued. “It’s going to be difficult, but it’s time to take it to the next level, and that’s what this rover is going to do.”

Along with the presentations, MSL rover hardware and graphics were on display, along with educational materials about the mission, in several exhibits ion the presentation room and the adjoining Aerospace Exploration Gallery at the AERO Institute.

Considered the most challenging NASA mission in the history of planetary science exploration, MSL and Curiosity will reach their destination on Sunday evening, Aug. 5, when they will begin their complex descent to the planet. Hundreds of separate computer-controlled actions must take place in perfect sequence to bring the laboratory from an entry speed of 13,000 mph to a soft zero-speed landing in seven minutes – described by program scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena as “seven minutes of terror.” Only a third of previous missions to Mars have landed successfully.

MSL was launched Nov. 26, 2011. Essentially a roving science laboratory, the mission is focused on determining whether the area inside Mars’ Gale Crater has ever offered an environment favorable for microbial life.

Dr. Kelly Fast answers questions from Gillian Carter of Palmdale following one of her presentations on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory and its Curiosity rover.

MSL attempts to build on the success of the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which were intended to complete a 90-day mission following their landings in early 2004, but which continued to operate far longer than expected. MSL mission planners hope that Curiosity to add volumes of new information to enhance humankind’s knowledge of Mars and answer some questions about its history.

NASA Dryden has directly supported NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s MSL mission preparations the past three years by test flying the MSL’s landing radar on one of the center’s F/A-18 aircraft and aboard a helicopter.

Fast took note of a plastic demonstration replica of one of the Curiosity rover’s six wheels that was on display during her presentation, pointing to a planned irregularity in the wheel’s tread that will allow scientists to record the distance traveled with each revolution of the wheel.

“JPL thought it would be really cute to put J-P-L in Morse code on the wheel, so it’s going to be rolling along the surface saying J-P-L, J-P-L,” she quipped. “You know, after all the work they’ve put in …(you’ve) got to do something like that.”

NASA Dryden’s Martel Martinez discusses geological aspects of the Curiosity rover’s mission on Mars with Gerald and Albert Dummett at the Mars Science Laboratory exhibit in the AERO Institute.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
NASA photograph by David Olive

NASA completes successful battery of tests on composite cryotank

https://www.youtube.com/embed/qkGI6JeNY0E?enablejsapi=1&rel=0 NASA photograph by David Olive One of the largest composite cryotanks ever built recently completed a battery of tests at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Cen...
 
 
NASA/MSFC image

NASA completes key review of world’s most powerful rocket

NASA/MSFC image Artist concept of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) 70-metric-ton configuration launching to space. SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built for deep space missions, including to an asteroid and ultimate...
 
 
Image courtesy of NASA, Z. Levay, G. Bacon (STScI)

NASA telescopes uncover early construction of giant galaxy

Image courtesy of NASA, Z. Levay, G. Bacon (STScI) Artist impression of a firestorm of star birth deep inside core of young, growing elliptical galaxy. Astronomers have for the first time caught a glimpse of the earliest stages...
 

 

Lockheed Martin, Electro Optic Systems to establish space debris tracking site

Under a new strategic cooperation agreement, Lockheed Martin and Electro Optic Systems Pty Ltd are developing a new space object tracking site in Western Australia that will paint a more detailed picture of space debris for both government and commercial customers. The site will use a combination of lasers and sensitive optical systems like those...
 
 

NASA awards research facilities, engineering support services contract

NASA has awarded a contract for research facilities and engineering support services to InuTeq, LLC of Greenbelt, Maryland, in support of the Mission Information and Test Systems Directorate at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. This cost-plus-award-fee contract covers a one-year base period beginning Nov. 1, 2014 and four one-year options, and is valued...
 
 

NASA awards contract option on test, operations support contract

NASA has exercised the first option to extend the period of performance of its Test and Operations Support Contract with Jacobs Technology Inc. of Tullahoma, Tenn., to Sept. 30, 2016. Jacobs Technology Inc. will provide continued overall management and implementation of ground systems capabilities, flight hardware processing and launch operations in support of the International...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>