Rover hill, rover dale, as we hit the dusty trail

In the wake of the somewhat disappointing news about Mars Curiosity this week, there are reports of another rover in the works. That got me to think’n! We’re getting good at building these things and we might be on the cusp of a generalized rover design that would work in many places all over the solar system. A standardized, scalable and adaptable primary architecture and power train married to one of several reliable EDL packages that could turn this century into an age of discovery on par with the one kicked off by Columbus 500 years ago. Hey, a boy can dream. [Read more…]

Curiosity to begin search for Martians

The penny in this image is part of a camera calibration target on NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on Mars September 9, 2012. Credit AFP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

After a nail-biting entry and descent followed by firing off a few breathtaking images inside Gale Crater, Curiosity is about to begin the mission it was designed so well for. Prospecting for ancient biotic gold: [Read more…]

More on Curiosity

Curiosity will be landing, or trying to land, at about 12:30 AM Central Time in the US. A press conference is in progress here, the panelist all opened by saying they’re having to remind themselves to breathe. I’ll be adding to this post throughout the day.

At a press conference today Richard Cook described what is planned. The deep space tracking network will be relaying real time communication with the rover, the first opportunity to hear from the vehicle is likely to be within seconds of landing. Shortly after 12:31 AM engineers will probably know if the landing was a success and there could be images returned a little after that time. On the next pass by an orbiter about two hours later images will probably be returned by the fish eye HazCam.


Keyword Mars Curiosity: official landing time, pressers, & streaming info

NASA has retasked the Odyssey orbiter to track the Mars Science Lab carrying the Curiosity, the next generation rover is charging its lithium ion batteries to final 100% capacity courtesy of the solar array on the MSL as we speak. There’s been some confusion on the exact date and time of the seven minutes of terror hope leading to Curiosity’s landing, the current 14 minute light-speed lag between earth and Mars doesn’t exactly help. Official landing times, live stream feeds, and press conference schedule below: [Read more…]

Opportunity stirs after long Martian winter

 The Mars rover Opportunity stirred in the midst of its slumber in the long Martian winter and snapped this beautiful composite image.  One month from today it will be joined by the much larger Curiosity and the search for ancient life will begin in earnest. Assuming Curiosity survives NASA’s Rube Goldberg reentry and descent contraption. And a new study suggests signs of ancient life could be lurking just under the surface for it to find: [Read more…]