Mars Curiosity Facts

Mars Curiosity Rover Selfie

With the Mars Curiosity landing just a few hours away I thought it would be a good time to list some facts about the rover and it’s mission.

Overview

  • Curiosity is just the name of the rover; the overall mission is referred to as the Mars Science Laboratory or MSL
  • Of the previous 39 missions to Mars, including orbiters and landers, only 15 have been successful
  • All six successful landers have been NASA missions, though a Soviet lander did broadcast for 14 minutes before contact was lost
  • The Mars Science Laboratory mission cost $2.5 billion which is about $1 billion over budget

The Rover

  • The Curiosity rover weighs 900 kilograms
  • When on Mars it will be able to move at 30 meters per hour depending on the terrain
  • Curiosity has 17 cameras and 10 other scientific instruments
  • These include a mobile organic chemistry lab and a laser that can vaporise rocks
  • The rover is powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator and lithium-ion batteries
Mars Curiosity Rover in the Lab

The Journey

  • The MSL was launched on the 26th November 2011 from Cape Canaveral
  • The Mars Science Laboratory has travelled 560 million km to reach Mars a journey which has taken just over eight months

The Mission

  • The main mission is expected to last for one Martian year or about 98 weeks

The MSL mission has four scientific goals:

  1. Determine whether Mars could ever have supported life
  2. Study the climate of Mars
  3. Study the geology of Mars
  4. Plan for a human mission to Mars

The Landing

  • The landing will take place at the base of Mount Sharp inside the Gale Crater at about 05:31 UTC on August 6, 2012
  • It will take about 7 minutes for the MSL to make its entry, descent, and landing once it reaches Mars’ atmosphere
  • This seven minutes has been dubbed the “7 minutes of terror”, the video below explains everything that will occur during this period

A live broadcast of the landing can be watched here.

Related space facts:

142 comments

  1. I know how it happened because I work at the space craft missions I talk to the people on the spaceship its really cool to do that they tell a lot of things going on and its sometimes hard to try to control the channels to the same station

  2. The only reason I am on this site is cause the student teacher is doing a lesson but this is helpful and I made a on my test

  3. This is so fun and the one i like the most is the milky way because when i think about it kinda makes my hungry from the milky way choclate bar and thats it

  4. This is so fun to get on and learn about space and the stuff they send out to space and the video was really cool cause you guys actually get to go out in space and do this stuff and I really want to be like you guys one day.

  5. Hmmm… I’m currently a sophomore in college and I’m on this site to help me write my 750 word paper…
    Don’t grow up too fast children!!

    1. “I wish I was a robot” that would be cool… aside from the lack of independant thought

  6. That is really cool. I wish I could go up to Mars, but I’m really good at sports so that may not happen.

  7. This information is very useful and it helps me for my notes. I have a test next week for the quarter grade and lets just say, I learned a lot.

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