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  Curiosity to Mars: Viewing, questions, comments (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Curiosity to Mars: Viewing, questions, comments
Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-12-2011 10:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Curiosity to Mars: mission viewing, questions, comments
This thread is intended for comments and questions regarding the Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory and the updates published under the topic: NASA's Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission is preparing to set down a large, mobile laboratory using precision landing technology that makes many of Mars' most intriguing regions viable destinations for the first time. During the 23 months after landing, MSL will analyze dozens of samples drilled from rocks or scooped from the ground as it explores with greater range than any previous Mars rover.

MSL will carry the most advanced payload of scientific gear ever used on Mars' surface, a payload more than 10 times as massive as those of earlier Mars rovers. Its assignment: Investigate whether conditions have been favorable for microbial life and for preserving clues in the rocks about possible past life.

Plans for the Mars Science Laboratory call for launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, between Nov. 25 and Dec. 18, 2011, and arrival at Mars in August 2012.

music_space
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posted 08-15-2011 11:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The probe will be powered by a radioisotope power system. Was there any opposition this time around to the launch of radioactive material? Which special dispositions have been effected for a safe launch? Which previous planetary probes were powered by radioisotopes?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-15-2011 11:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A collection of MSL power source fact sheets, including contingency plans and launch safety documents, is available on the mission's website.

With the exception of Juno, all the probes that have been sent to the outer planets have been powered by radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-17-2011 07:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex release
View NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Launch for Nov. 25 from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Launch-Related Activities Including Mars Rover Exhibit, Bill Nye the Science Guy and LEGO Play Area

Locals and visitors to Central Florida are invited to be a part of the excitement throughout Thanksgiving weekend as NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission carrying the car-sized Curiosity rover launches aboard a massive Atlas V 541 rocket on its way to explore the red planet. The launch is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 25, at 10:25 a.m. EST, the day after Thanksgiving, with special events and launch-related activities taking place throughout the week.

A limited number of guests are invited to witness the historic MSL launch from select designated locations within Kennedy Space Center, for just $20 plus the cost of admission (required). Or, guests may watch the launch from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for the cost of admission, which is $43 + tax for adults and $33 + tax for children ages 3-11. Guests may purchase an Annual Pass and enjoy unlimited visits for one calendar year from date of purchase (with the exception of Dec. 25) for just $13 more - $56 + tax for adults and $46 + tax for children ages 3-11.

Throughout the launch week and beyond, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will host a variety of special events and activities.

Starting Nov. 21, the Visitor Complex welcomes a Mars Rover Exhibit, featuring a trio of full sized, high fidelity rover models from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) including: Sojourner, Mars Exploration Rover (MER) and the newest member of the family, the car-sized MSL rover, Curiosity.

The exhibit, located in Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted, will remain at the Visitor Complex through March 2012.

Nov. 22 through 26, children of all ages are invited to the LEGO Build the Future play area. Guests will be admitted to the play area for 45 minutes to build their vision of the future out of LEGO bricks. For a glimpse at LEGO activities, visit legospace.com.

On Nov. 25, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex welcomes back special guest Bill Nye of the Emmy award-winning TV show, "Bill Nye The Science Guy," who will speak to guests at the IMAX Theater at 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. to discuss the MSL mission and Curiosity rover. Seating for Nye's presentations is available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so early arrival at the theater is recommended.

Bill Nye is the Executive Director of The Planetary Society, the world's largest space interest group, as well as a scientist, former Boeing engineer, stand-up comedian, author, inventor and man on a mission: to help foster a scientifically literate society. He is the host of three currently running TV shows including "The 100 Greatest Discoveries" on the Science Channel, "The Eyes of Nye" on PBS and "Stuff Happens" on Planet Green.

On Nov. 25-26, guests may take part in the Scientists in Action live webcast and ask questions of MSL scientists as well as attend live presentations by visiting Mars scientists.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission features the car-sized Curiosity rover, equipped with the most advanced payload of scientific gear ever deployed to the surface of Mars. After an eight-month journey, MSL will land on Mars in August 2012. The innovative and precise guided entry and powered sky crane descent employed to place Curiosity on the Martian surface has made many of Mars' most intriguing regions viable destinations for the first time. In the 23-months (one Mars year) after landing, Curiosity will analyze samples drilled from rocks or scooped from the ground as it explores, assesses and characterizes its landing region site with greater capabilities than any previous Mars rover. Much like a robotic field geologist and mobile geochemical and environmental laboratory, Curiosity will provide NASA scientists with data for understanding Mars as a potential habitat for life, past or present.

To purchase launch viewing tickets, visit kennedyspacecenter.com or call 866-737-5235. Due to the anticipated popularity of launch viewing opportunities, reservations are strongly suggested.

Spacefest
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posted 11-17-2011 12:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacefest   Click Here to Email Spacefest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I worry about dust and sand getting into all the nooks and crannies after a few seasons and gumming up the works.

Aztecdoug
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posted 11-18-2011 10:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That video short from YouTube was really nicely done. My 5 and 7 years old girls were fascinated by it. The older one especially enjoyed the entry landing sequence. They recognized the Martian landscape straight away too due to a Kim Poor litho hanging around the house.

Teaching science to the young is like an onion, you simply apply layers and layers subtly until they are infected with Curiosity for how stuff works. Now Curiosity is headed to Mars. Bad pun intended. Maybe I will have to head up to La Canada Flintridge next time JPL has an open house now.

capoetc
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posted 11-25-2011 12:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting article from Spaceflight Now asking whether NASA is getting ready to retreat from its ongoing exploration of Mars.

GACspaceguy
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posted 11-26-2011 02:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, that is a fantastic liftoff photo! Can we ask where you took it from?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-26-2011 04:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks! The photo was taken with a 400mm lens from atop the Vehicle Assembly Building.

BA002
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posted 11-27-2011 01:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BA002   Click Here to Email BA002     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This was the first time I watched an interplanetary launch on NASA TV and I was really fascinated. I found the animated view of the rocket during the latter stages of the launch and then the second firing to put it on course to Mars captivating, almost as if it was the real thing. I had my eyes glued to the apogee and perigee numbers, amazing how fast the apogee was increasing during the actual trans Mars injection.

Technically speaking, does the apogee go up to infinite before engine cutoff or up to the actual mileage to Mars or how does that work?

And then there was the final shot of separation. I sort of knew that it works that way but I was still amazed to realize how short the actual boost phase of the mission is. Just 45 minutes after launch and it's really on it's way.

Incredible stuff this. I really hope Curiosity will be as successful as the previous rovers.

GACspaceguy
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posted 11-27-2011 05:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just as a side note, it was great that the NBC News reported the launch on their Saturday evening news. They do need some help in their science reporting department as they said that Curiosity was launched on a Saturn V.

Jim Behling
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posted 11-27-2011 07:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by BA002:
Technically speaking, does the apogee go up to infinite before engine cutoff or up to the actual mileage to Mars or how does that work?
It goes to infinity since it reaches escape velocity and is on a hyperbolic trajectory which means it is not in earth orbit.
quote:
I was still amazed to realize how short the actual boost phase of the mission is. Just 45 minutes after launch and it's really on it's way.
The time between the Centaur varies within the launch window and launch period. There are some coasts over an hour long.

ilbasso
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posted 11-28-2011 01:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Amazing timelapse movie from Brisbane Planetarium - MSL cruise stage and its Centaur booster after the final boost to Mars. MSL is the moving dot to the left of the plume, which is the Centaur venting propellants to move away from MSL.

BA002
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posted 11-28-2011 02:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BA002   Click Here to Email BA002     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Amazing indeed, thanks for posting!

I'm not sure though if it's enough to convince any Curiosity hoaxers.

Philip
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posted 12-26-2011 05:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
New sunspot 1387 erupted during the late hours of Christmas Day, producing an M4-class flare and hurling a Coronal Mass Ejection - CME toward Earth and Mars.

The CME is expected to deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on Dec. 28th at 1200 UT and a direct hit to the planet Mars on Dec. 30th at 1800 UT. Using onboard radiation sensors, NASA's Curiosity rover might be able to sense the CME when it passes the rover's spacecraft en route to Mars.

Here on Earth, NOAA forecasters estimate a 30-to-40% chance of geomagnetic storms on Dec. 28th when the CME and an incoming solar wind stream (unrelated to the CME) could arrive in quick succession. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras on Wednesday night.

moorouge
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posted 03-02-2012 11:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a fascinating film. Leaves one wondering why they made it so complicated.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-23-2012 09:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
Leaves one wondering why they made it so complicated.
A new, rather dramatic video explains exactly why the Curiosity's final descent to the Martian surface is described as "seven minutes of terror."

Team members at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory share the challenges of the Curiosity Mars rover's final minutes to landing on the surface of Mars.

ilbasso
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posted 06-23-2012 11:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The comment "Mars' atmosphere is too thick to ignore, but not enough to finish the job" sums it up nicely.

MSL is more than half again as heavy as the Viking landers. The landing sequence is somewhat similar with the exception of the skycrane. I had my doubts about the complexity introduced by the skycrane, too (what happens if any of the pyros don't fire?), but it seems the only way to get the lander on the surface without clogging it up with dust.

Landing a ship of Curiosity's mass begins to show the technical challenges that would be encountered in putting a manned lander or a sample return vehicle on the surface. You've got to carry an awful lot of fuel down there with you.

Jim Behling
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posted 06-23-2012 02:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ilbasso:
I had my doubts about the complexity introduced by the skycrane, too [1] (what happens if any of the pyros don't fire? [2]), but it seems the only way to get the lander on the surface without clogging it up with dust. [3]
  1. No more complex than trying to get/drive a rover off of a lander

  2. There are two pyros in each location.

  3. Has nothing to do with dust, it is a reduction in complexity with an increased probability of mission success.

Take the current MSL configuration and add landing legs to the descent stage. The rover would still have have to be lowered from the descent stage to drive out. Other than the extra mass of legs, the same issues that affect MSL would still affect the modified vehicle. The fact that MSL does all the operations within seconds doesn't change things.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-23-2012 02:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Behling:
Has nothing to do with dust
Not sure if you watched the video, but in it, Anita Sengupta, a JPL senior systems engineer charged with Entry Descent and Landing (EDL) systems, specifically attributes the skycrane to the concern over dust.
We can't get those rocket engines too close to the ground because if we were to descend propulsively all the way to the ground we would essentially create this massive dust cloud. That dust cloud could then land on the rover. It could damage mechanisms and it could damage instruments. So the way we solve that problem, is by using the skycrane maneuver.

DChudwin
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posted 07-22-2012 05:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Two weeks from today the rover Curiosity is scheduled to land on Mars as part of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. Because of Curiosity's weight, a complicated new landing system has been developed. The system includes parachute descent, powered descent, and a "Sky Crane" to lower Curiosity to the surface without a crash landing. While segments of the landing system have been tested, there is no way to do a complete test on Earth.

This mission is costing $2.5 billion and I believe that NASA is misguided putting "all its eggs in one basket." Whether Curiosity succeeds or crashes (and I hope for the first), I want to go on record that it was a mistake for NASA to devote so much resources (at the expense of other missions) to this one spacecraft without a back-up (previous missions often had two spacecraft). JPL and NASA are rolling the dice and there could be a very expensive junkpile in Gale Crater on Mars

alanh_7
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posted 07-22-2012 07:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You may be right, there is no doubt it looks like a very risky type of decent method. If it fails there will be fallout to be sure, and if it make it the mission will not get the credit it deserves.

To quote a phrase from Famed Korean War Ace General Frederick "Boots" Blesse who once wrote a book on tactics titled "No Guts No Glory"

That applies here I think.

DChudwin
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posted 07-22-2012 07:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Alan, while I agree with most of your post, I do think that if it is successful NASA and JPL will indeed get the credit. They are going for broke with this one spacecraft and rover costing $2.5 billion.

However, with MSL, NASA could have planned two spacecraft, each with more limited capabilities so that the weight would have been less, not requiring the current EDL design for landing. Alternatively, NASA could have built a back-up spacecraft (or at least the major parts). If Curiosity crashes, the JPL people have no realistic contingency plan.

I asked Richard Cook, the deputy project manager at JPL, why they didn't have a backup and he said it would have cost about $300 million more. If the MSL program at JPL would have stayed on schedule and on budget there would have been enough funds, in my opinion, to cover this.

The whole mission concept planning has been poor, the project is costing almost twice the original estimate, the flight is two years late, and the engineering requires too many things to work correctly to rely on only one spacecraft (without either a second spacecraft or at least the spare parts for another rover).

Let's cross our fingers because almost two-thirds of U.S. and Russian Mars missions have failed. Hopefully MSL will not be added to that list.

alanh_7
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posted 07-22-2012 10:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think we agree. When I first saw the complex system they have for lowering the rover I had to wonder why they went with such a large, complex and expensive rover when they have had so much success with smaller less complex systems like Opportunity and Spirit. And I agree a less complex pair of spacecraft might have been a better way to go.

I speculate that with budget cuts to the unmanned space program, the idea was to put all their eggs on one basket (or spacecraft) in hopes of collecting as much data as they can with one hail mary mission. If it works then the data collected will be worth the risk. If it fails we have will have seen the last mars spacecraft of its kind for some time either way success or failure so perhaps they thought it worth the risk.

Again I speculate at this. My fingers will be crossed for a successful landing.

Blackarrow
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posted 07-23-2012 04:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Arms, legs and toes, too!

canyon42
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posted 07-24-2012 09:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for canyon42   Click Here to Email canyon42     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Are there any plans to try to get a photo of Curiosity's descent from another craft like the shot of Phoenix under its parachute taken by the Mars Observer orbiter? I swear, that picture still gives me chills when I see it. I remember as a kid following the Viking missions and trying to imagine what it was like for them to come down--the notion that 30 years later we could photograph one craft coming down from another craft in orbit seemed almost magical.

Jim Behling
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posted 07-24-2012 10:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All this talk of increased risk and complexity is unfounded. There is no more risk in the skycrane method than any other type of lander. Even if the descent stage had stilt type legs, the same issues and risks would exist. The only difference would be that for the skycrane, everything happens quickly and not drawn out. Either way, there is nothing that JPL could do if there was a problem.

As for other methods, air bags were already maxed out for MER, a Viking type lander with a rover on top would have a larger problem in getting the rover off, which with the dust, lead to the skycrane. The lander would have to be higher than the Lunkhod.

MER rovers were not capable of handling other instruments due to lack of power

As for a second rover, not really feasible and mission costs (not jut rover) would be closer to $500 million

  1. not plutonium for RTG
  2. no second launch vehicle capable of flying the mission

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-25-2012 08:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Explore Mars release
Explore Mars Launches 'Get Curious' Campaign Ahead of Mars Rover 'Curiosity' Landing

United Launch Alliance and Aerojet support nationwide campaign surrounding Mars exploration

The 'Get Curious' campaign launches today with the support of United Launch Alliance (ULA), Explore Mars, a nonprofit organization promoting innovation and education aimed at making a human mission to Mars happen sooner, and Aerojet.

The campaign encourages the public to 'Get Curious' and visit GetCurious.com, where they can learn more about the landing of the Mars rover 'Curiosity,' the benefits of space exploration and the unique financial and educational opportunities that exploring Mars will bring to the United States and the rest of the world.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, on board 'Curiosity,' will make its descent onto the Red Planet on the evening of Aug. 5. Curiosity began its eight-month journey in November 2011 and is set to land that night at 10:30 pm PDT/12:31 am CDT/1:31 am EDT.

"The potential knowledge we could gain from Curiosity's exploration is tremendous," Explore Mars Executive Director Chris Carberry said. "We have an opportunity to learn if life once could have existed or could still exist on Mars. A successful MSL mission will also move us one step closer to the goal of putting humans on Mars by 2030."

Curiosity is the largest mobile science laboratory to date; it will analyze the atmospheric history of Mars, examine radiation, interpret geological processes, look for the building blocks of life, and conduct many other science experiments. Explore Mars will continue to provide educational information, mission highlights and laboratory findings as they come in and for several months after the landing to educate the public about the mission.

"As an organization that proudly serves our country's space launch needs, United Launch Alliance (ULA) understands the social and economic importance of this mission to Mars," said Michael Gass, ULA's President and CEO. "ULA is excited to participate in the 'Get Curious' campaign. We hope the campaign will inspire people, raise awareness and increase public support for future launches to continue to explore our universe."

The 'Get Curious' campaign's website, GetCurious.com, will host a range of information and activities including a landing countdown ticker, a map of local 'landing parties,' educational materials, photos, videos and information from partners such as ULA, Aerojet, National Geographic, the National Institute of Aerospace, Yuri's Night and a plethora of social media activity.

Science and astronomy groups, organizations and individuals across the nation are encouraged to plan local watch parties at restaurants, pubs, universities, planetariums and other venues to join space enthusiasts around the world. The NASA channel and a live streaming video will be available at nasa.gov/ntv as the rover touches down.

Party organizers can register their event at GetCurious.com/parties. All events will be added to an interactive party map allowing interested people in the area to join local parties. Photos, discussions and locations of parties can also be tracked on Twitter using #MarsParties.

Additionally, an eight-city, nationwide exhibit will launch on July 26 to promote the campaign. More information will be released on that day and will be available on the campaign website.

On the "Curiosity Kids" section of the webpage, students, parents and teachers will be able to explore STEM education information about Mars and America's innovations in space exploration.

For more about Curiosity, the Get Curious campaign, partners, and to learn how to become involved please visit GetCurious.com.

Philip
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posted 07-30-2012 02:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Must see BBC Horizon series

Special BBC Horizon dedicated to MSL - Mission to Mars

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-31-2012 09:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA has released two version of the same video, narrated by Star Trek stars William Shatner and Wil Wheaton:

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-31-2012 09:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is the schedule of events that will broadcast on NASA TV leading up to and through the landing of Curiosity. All times are CDT (GMT-5):

Thursday, Aug. 2

  • 12 p.m. Mission Science Overview News Briefing
  • 1 p.m. Mission Engineering Overview News Briefing
Friday, Aug. 3
  • 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. NASA Social
Saturday, Aug. 4
  • 11:30 a.m. Prelanding Update and Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) Overview News Briefing
Sunday, Aug. 5
  • 11:30 a.m. - Final Prelanding Update News Briefing
  • 5 p.m. - NASA Science News Briefing
  • 10:30 p.m. to about 1 a.m. - Landing Commentary No. 1
Monday, Aug. 6
  • No earlier than 1:15 a.m. - Post-landing News Briefing
  • 2:30 to 3:30 a.m. - Landing Commentary No. 2
  • 11 a.m. - Landing Recap News Briefing
  • 6 p.m. - Possible New Images News Briefing
Tuesday, Aug. 7
  • 12 p.m. - News Briefing
Wednesday, Aug. 8
  • 12 p.m. - News Briefing
Thursday, Aug. 9
  • 12 p.m. - News Briefing
Friday, Aug. 10
  • 12 p.m. (tentative) - News Briefing
Two live feeds during key landing activities from mission control at JPL will be carried on NASA TV and on the Web from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. CDT (1530 to 1800 GMT) Aug. 5, and from 2:30 to 3:30 a.m. CDT (0700 to 0830 GMT) Aug. 6. The NASA TV Public Channel and ustream.tv/nasajpl will carry a feed including commentary and interviews.

The NASA TV Media Channel and ustream.tv/nasajpl2 will carry an uninterrupted, clean feed with only mission audio.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-01-2012 06:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you find yourself caught between the Red Planet and New York City...
Daring NASA Mars mission broadcast lands in Times Square

The Toshiba Vision screen in New York City's Times Square will become the largest East Coast location for the public to see live mission coverage of Curiosity, NASA's most advanced planetary rover, as it lands on the Martian surface at 1:31 a.m. EDT August 6.

The Toshiba Vision screen will broadcast NASA TV coverage beginning at 11:30 p.m. EDT August 5 and continuing through 4 a.m. EDT the next day. Programming will originate from Mission Control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. The rover is on a precise course for a landing beside a Martian mountain to begin 2 years of unprecedented scientific detective work.

"In the city that never sleeps, the historic Times Square will be the place for New Yorkers to participate in this historic landing," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "When you think of all the big news events in history, you think of Times Square, and I can think of no better venue to celebrate this news-making event on Mars."

Getting Curiosity to the surface of Mars will not be easy. During a critical period lasting only about 7 minutes, the MSL spacecraft carrying Curiosity must slow down from about 13,200 mph (about 5,900 meters per second) to allow the rover to land on the surface at about 1.7 mph (three-fourths of a meter per second). For the landing to succeed, hundreds of events will need to go right, many with split-second timing. All are controlled autonomously by the spacecraft.

Prominently positioned below the world-famous New Year's Eve ball in Times Square, the Toshiba Vision dual LED screens will allow viewers to see the action from Mission Control, including receipt of the first signal from Mars following a successful landing. "We're pleased the Toshiba Vision screens will offer a unique view of this great scientific achievement, the landing of the rover Curiosity on Mars," says Eddie Temistokle, senior manager of corporate communications and corporate social responsibility for Toshiba America Inc.

Visitors to Times Square can hear the audio portion of NASA's coverage along with other listeners around the world by tuning in to the online radio station Third Rock Radio. This is the first time Third Rock Radio will provide live coverage of a NASA event. Third Rock Radio can be streamed from the NASA homepage at and on smart phones and tablets through the Tuneln mobile app.

Scott
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posted 08-02-2012 11:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NBCNews.com: What we'll see from Mars, and when
The 17 cameras on NASA's Curiosity rover are capable of sending back unprecedented, jaw-dropping, full-color views of Mars — but don't expect to be wowed by the first images. In fact, they just might be literally the size of postage stamps, in black and white.

Millions of people will be watching NASA's coverage of Curiosity's landing at 10:31 p.m. PT Sunday (1:31 a.m. ET Monday), on displays ranging from palm-sized smartphone screens to the giant screen in New York's Times Square. If the landing is successful, the first thing we'll see is bunches of grown men and women acting like giddy teenagers, pointing at blips on their computer monitors. What we definitely won't see are the 2-megapixel, color images that Curiosity's best cameras are capable of capturing.

Instead, we might see 64-by-64-pixel, black-and-white thumbnails from the rover's hazard avoidance cameras, or Hazcams. If NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter has time to relay more data from Curiosity, they might be 256 pixels square. Or there might be no pictures at all, just because Odyssey wasn't able to acquire enough of a signal fast enough.

In that case, we'll have to wait for Odyssey's second orbital pass, at around 12:45 a.m. PT Sunday (3:45 a.m. ET Monday). The fisheye-view Hazcam images sent during that opportunity could be 512 pixels square or maybe even 1,024 pixels square.

Blackarrow
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posted 08-02-2012 12:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by canyon42:
Are there any plans to try to get a photo of Curiosity's descent from another craft like the shot of Phoenix under its parachute taken by the Mars Observer orbiter?
According to Spaceflight Now there will be an attempt by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to capture views of "Curiosity" on its descent.

ozspace
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posted 08-03-2012 02:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ozspace   Click Here to Email ozspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
See MSL in flight using real time data!

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-03-2012 09:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There seems to be pessimism even at JPL about the landing. What happened to the can-do attitude?

bwhite1976
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posted 08-03-2012 05:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bwhite1976   Click Here to Email bwhite1976     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Once the skycrane delivers Curiosity and blasts away will it just fall and crash land somewhere or was there thought as to what area it might be directed to? Will there be any attempt to video its own landing with onboard cameras on the skycrane itself? Just curious.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-03-2012 06:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The descent stage flies to a crash landing, per the press kit, "coming to the surface at least 492 feet (150 meters) from the rover's position, probably more than double that distance."

The descent stage is not equipped with a camera. The Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) is mounted underneath Curiosity. It will record a frame-by-frame movie of the descent from heat shield jettison to just after the rover touches down. The final frames, after landing, will cover a bath-towel-size patch of ground under the front-left corner of the rover.

GoesTo11
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posted 08-04-2012 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Fra Mauro:
There seems to be pessimism even at JPL about the landing.

I'm not sure I'd call it "pessimism," but I do sense a 50/50 "Can we really pull this off?" sort of crossed-fingers hope that it'll work. Much less institutional confidence than with previous missions. Godspeed, Curiosity.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-04-2012 02:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As illustrated by the below graphic (credit: NASA/JPL), "Mars is hard!" The team is clearly confident that they have done everything they can to deliver mission success — but there are countless challenges that they cannot control, ranging from Martian weather to radiation-inflicted glitches.

So while no one is predicting a crash (other than perhaps many of the media now gathering at JPL), the team is being realistic when they say that this is not a sure thing.


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