Over the past several years, the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft—from the heat shield to the rover to the supersonic parachute—has gone through extensive and painstaking testing. This Sunday, it will finally land on Mars. In anticipation of this upcoming milestone, here are some of the best images of MSL's journey from Pasadena and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to Cape Canaveral and onward to the Red Planet.
After years of planning and months of travel, the journey of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) will culminate with a challenging entry, descent, and landing event on August 5that will take just a few minutes to complete. But for those in mission control, those final moments—from the time of the spacecraft's entry into the Martian atmosphere to the Curiosity rover's final landing on the Red Planet—will undoubtedly feel like a lifetime.
Since launching in November 2011, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) has been traveling full steam ahead on a journey that will traverse over 350 million miles, ending on the Red Planet at 10:31 p.m. on Sunday, August 5. Tucked into a spacecraft for safekeeping during flight, MSL contains a rover named Curiosity. Here are some facts about Curiosity and the mission.
After journeying more than 340 million miles over the course of eight months, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)—the most capable robotic mission ever sent to the Red Planet—is quickly approaching its destination. The spacecraft is scheduled to touch down on the evening of August 5. A feature-length story about this Mission to Mars appears in the Summer issue of E&S magazine.
Increased confidence in the landing technology aboard the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft has enabled NASA to narrow the ellipse where its newest Mars rover plans to touch down on the Red Planet. Upon landing, at around 10:31 p.m. PDT on August 5, the rover will be much closer than originally planned to the primary science target—a layered mountain called Mount Sharp in honor of the late Caltech geologist Robert Sharp (BS '34, MS '35).
With the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) well on its way to Mars, the newest members of its science team have been announced. Two Caltech professors—Kenneth Farley and Bethany Ehlmann—are among 18 researchers who have been selected as funded participating scientists on the mission.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has won NASA's 2011 Software of the Year accolade for software it developed that has enabled the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity to autonomously select interesting science targets to study with its cameras.
The landing site for Curiosity, the next Mars rover, has been narrowed down to two choices. Curiosity will either explore Eberswalde crater, an ancient river delta, or Gale crater, the home of a three-mile high mountain.