July 21, 2016

Curiosity rover

Curiosity Rover

As the twin MERs (Mars Exploration Rover) Spirit and Opportunity, now on the surface of Mars, Curiosity has six wheels and 17 cameras, some of which are mounted on a mast. Unlike the twin rovers, it carries a laser to vaporize a thin layer from the surface of a rock and analyze the elemental composition of the underlying materials. It then collects and crushes rock and soil samples for chemical analysis. Its design includes a suite of scientific instruments to identify organic compounds such as proteins, amino acids, and other acids and bases that attach themselves to carbon backbones and are essential to life as we know it.

Rover MSL au JPL - © NASA/JPL   Localisation des instruments sur le rover

A comparison between the characteristics of the twin rovers and Curiosity highlights the improvements of the latter:

Mass (Launch/Entry/Rover)3900 / 2400 / 900 kg1077 / 841 / 179 kg
Power-Energy by SOL
1000 solar-W / 2500 WHrs-RTG600 solar-W / 900 solar-WHrs
Mast height/Wheel base2.13 m / 1.9 m1.5 m / 1.4 m
Clearance/Wheel diameter0.66 m / 0.4 m0.3 m / 0.26 m
Landing site
ellipse size
Altitude max
20 km x 20 km
2 km
+60° to -60°
150 km x 20 km
1.3 km
+10° to -15°
Scientific Payload Mass75 kg6 kg
Mobility range (distance max)20 km600 m
(> 7.7 km for SPIRIT
and to this day
over 30 km for Opportunity)

Les différents rovers qui se sont posés sur Mars