Mars Science Laboratory or Curiosity.
Set to be launch this Satruday, the Mars Science Laboratory (from now on just Curiosity) is expected to be the most technologically advanced object ever to be sent into an interplanetary mission.
This gigantic rover, the biggest ever built is about the size of a Mini Cooper and it weights some 900 kg. This are some of the important instruments in its payload:
It will carry 3 cameras - 2 of them will be for HD imaging of the surface and another one for microscopic imaging.
ChemCAM - a laser induced spectrometer. It will use this powerful laser to vaporize rock and analyze the elements in the vapor.
Alpha-particle X-Ray spectrometer - an interesting instrument that will radiate alpha-particles and will use a spectrometer to determine the elements based on their x-ray emission.
Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons - A pulsing neutron source that will help detect hydrogen or water in the surface of Mars. This instrument was provided by the Russian Federal Space Agency.
This rover will be powered by a Radioisotope Thermal Generator, that will generate about 125 watts of electrical power. It will also be the thermal generator for the mission.
Finally I share with you the mission objectives:
- Determine the nature and inventory of organic compounds. If no organic compounds are found, that is useful information, as evidence about life on Mars may not be near the surface. It would also aid understanding of the environmental conditions that remove organics.
- Inventory the chemical building blocks of life as we know it: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur.
- Identify features that may represent the effects of metabolism or biosignatures.
- Investigate the chemical, isotopic, and mineralogical composition of the Martian surface and near-surface geological materials.
- Interpret the processes that have formed and modified rocks and soils. Assess long-timescale (i.e., 4-billion-year)Martian atmospheric evolution processes.
- Determine present state, distribution, and cycling of water and carbon dioxide.
- Characterize the broad spectrum of surface radiation, including galactic radiation cosmic radiation solar proton events and secondary neutrons.
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