Space

August 14, 2012

NASA Mars rover team hears from President Obama

President Barack Obama told the flight control team for NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, “You made us all proud,” Aug. 13.

Obama telephoned the mission control room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., to congratulate JPL Director Charles Elachi and the Mars Science Laboratory team operating the rover, which landed on Mars a week ago.

“What you’ve accomplished embodies the American spirit,” the president said. “Our expectation is that Curiosity is going to be telling us things we did not know before and laying the groundwork for an even more audacious undertaking in the future, and that’s a human mission to Mars.”

Obama said Curiosity’s landing advances his goals of improving education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “This is the kind of thing that inspires kids across the country,” he said. “They’re telling their moms and dads they want to be part of a Mars mission, maybe even the first person to walk on Mars.”

Elachi thanked Obama for the call and added, “Hopefully we inspire some of the millions of young people who were watching the landing.”

Obama noted, “You guys should be remarkably proud. Really what makes us best as a species is this curiosity we have – this yearning to discover and know more and push the boundaries of knowledge.”

The rover team has completed three of the four days of activities needed for transitioning Curiosity’s two main computers to a version of software suited for the rover’s work on the surface of Mars. The surface work will include driving and using tools on a robotic arm. During landing, and the first few days after landing, the spacecraft’s computers used a version of flight software loaded with landing-day capabilities that no longer are needed.

“After the software transition, we go back to preparing the rover to be fully functional for surface operations,” Curiosity mission manager Art Thompson said. “We are looking forward to a first drive in about a week.” The first short drive will be part of a few weeks of initial checkouts and observations to assess equipment on the rover and characteristics of the landing site.

Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on NASA’s Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools are the first of their kind on Mars, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks’ elemental composition from a distance. Curiosity will use a drill and scoop located at the end of its robotic arm to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into the rover’s analytical laboratory instruments.

To handle this science toolkit, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit or Opportunity. The Gale Crater landing site at 4.59 degrees south, 137.44 degrees east, places the rover within driving distance of layers of the crater’s interior mountain. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history.

 

For more about NASA’s Curiosity mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/mars or http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl.

 

Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity or http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity.

 




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


 
 

 

Year in space starts for one American, one Russian

Three crew members representing the United States and Russia are on their way to the International Space Station after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:42 p.m., EDT, March 27. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will spend about a year living and working aboard the...
 
 
NASA photograph

Orion parachute testing conducted at AEDC NFAC facility

AEDC engineers were part of a test team that performed wind tunnel testing on the parachutes for NASA Orion spacecraft in January. The test team also consisted of NASA, Airborne Systems, Jacobs Engineering and NFAC personnel. P...
 
 

Ninth Boeing GPS IIF reaches orbit, sends first signals

Boeing Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF satellites are steadily replenishing the orbiting constellation, continuing to improve reliability and accuracy for users around the world. The ninth GPS IIF reached orbit about three hours, 20 minutes after launching today aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., and...
 

 
NASA/JPL-Caltech photograph

NASA asteroid hunter spacecraft data available to public

NASA/JPL-Caltech photograph The NEOWISE spacecraft viewed comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) for a second time on January 30, 2015, as the comet passed through the closest point to our sun along its 14,000-year orbit, at a solar distanc...
 
 
NASA and ESA image

NASA’s Hubble, Chandra find clues that may help identify dark matter

NASA and ESA image Here are images of six different galaxy clusters taken with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (blue) and Chandra X-ray Observatory (pink) in a study of how dark matter in clusters of galaxies behaves when t...
 
 
SOFIA

SOFIA finds missing link between supernovae, planet formation

NASA/CXO/Herschel/VLA/Lau et al SOFIA data reveal warm dust (white) surviving inside a supernova remnant. The SNR Sgr A East cloud is traced in X-rays (blue). Radio emission (red) shows expanding shock waves colliding with surr...
 




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>