Sunday, July 22, 2012

Curiosity Sampling

A couple of weeks ago, the MSL team put Curiosity's terrestrial twin through its paces with an "end-to-end" sampling exercise.  In a room at JPL, the twin drilled a rock, collected powder, and delivered it to an instrument.  It was the first time the full sequence had been performed in order!  There are some great images of the test on the LA times web site: 
From the LA Times article:  A rover replica...
For more, see: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0715mars-curiosity-landing-pictures,0,5702122.photogallery

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More and more information is accumulating on the web about the landing.  Here are some of the links:

1. Emily Lakdawalla blog post about MARDI, 20 July 2012.  http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2012/msl-mardi.html

MARDI is one of the cameras that I've watched go from just an idea to an outstanding scientific instrument.  It's main purpose is to take pictures during decent, recording the later part of the 7 minutes of terror.  It won't see anything until the heat shield is jettisoned.  However, after that point, it will take the first ever movie of landing on Mars!  We will use these images to place the rover in context in the first few days, and we expect to get many great scientific results from its images.


From Emily's blog:  
Test image from Curiosity MARDI containing Ken Edgett
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2. Curiosity's Daily Update: Curiosity Completes Week of Onboard Computer Preps  http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1260

Innumerable details go into the computer programs that run Curiosity.  Software development and debugging are always ongoing.  This link gives a day-by-day taste of some of the things the engineers are looking into with the software.  It's bad enough when your personal computer reboots when you're almost done with that long document.  When it happens when you are accessing the hard drive, the whole file can be corrupted.  Now imagine rebooting during landing on another planet - we need a backup that will take command immediately.  There is one...


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3.  Follow Your Curiosity: Some New Ways to Explore Mars  http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1253


This is the link to the X-box game for landing on Mars that was covered in the press conference on last Monday.  I heard it was great.  I personally missed the press conference because I witnessed a car accident and stopped to help in case someone was injured.  Luckily, everyone was okay, but I spent an hour standing by the side of a freeway rather than watching the press conference!  You can get the game free here:  http://marketplace.xbox.com/en-US/Product/Mars-Rover-Landing/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d80258480836

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4.  NASA's Car-Sized Rover Nears Daring Landing On Mars  http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1252


This is the press release that went with the press conference...


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5.  MSL Landing Press Kit:  http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/newsroom/


And everything else you wanted to know (almost) is in the press kit!


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What fun!!!

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