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Curiosity: the Mars Science Laboratory ProjectThe Curiosity rover landed successfully in Gale Crater, Mars on August 5, 2012. This event was a dramatic high point in the decade long effort to design, build, test and fly the most sophisticated scientific vehicle ever sent to Mars. The real achievements of the mission have only just begun, however, as Curiosity is now searching for signs that Mars once possessed habitable environments. The Mars Science Laboratory Project has been one of the most ambitious and challenging planetary projects that NASA has undertaken. It started in the successful aftermath of the 2003 Mars Exploration Rover project and was designed to take significant steps forward in both engineering and scientific capabilities. This included a new landing system capable of emplacing a large mobile vehicle over a wide range of potential landing sites, advanced sample acquisition and handling capabilities that can retrieve samples from both rocks and soil, and a high reliability avionics suite that is designed to permit long duration surface operations. It also includes a set of ten sophisticated scientific instruments that will investigate both the geological context of the landing site plus analyze samples to understand the chemical & organic composition of rocks & soil found there. The Gale Crater site has been specifically selected as a promising location where ancient habitable environments may have existed and for which evidence may be preserved. Curiosity will spend a minimum of one Mars year (about two Earth years) looking for this evidence. This paper will report on the progress of the mission over the first few months of surface operations, plus look retrospectively at lessons learned during both the development and cruise operations phase of the mission..
Document ID
20150005505
Document Type
Conference Paper
External Source(s)
Authors
Cook, Richard A. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
April 10, 2015
Publication Date
October 1, 2012
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing and Performance
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Meeting Information
International Astronautical Congress(Naples)
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Other
Keywords
project formulation
cruise operations phase
mission progress
surface operations