Like everything they build, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) designed Curiosity's Sky Crane landing system to work. But nothing is guaranteed in spaceflight. The team wouldn't know for sure whether the mission's entry, descent, and landing (or EDL) was successful until they got confirmation from the rover. The problem was that Curiosity's landing site in Gale Crater would be out of range at touchdown, so the team brought in a communications relay: the Mars Odyssey orbiter. It was a simple and obvious solution, except that Odyssey experienced its first ever malfunctions weeks before Curiosity's landing.
The race is on. After sending back a few grainy landscape photos, it's time for Curiosity to deliver Mars's close-ups. NASA's received new high-resolution photos taken from the rover's 34 and 100-millimeter Mast cams and as predicted, Mars's surface has a diverse range of geological layering that could help scientists learn if the planet harbors any form of life or not.
On August 28 at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, musician will.i.am will do something no artist has ever done before: blast a song from Mars' surface through the Curiosity rover. Why? Because he can (and runs a charity).
Missed the Curiosity landing the first time around because you were busy watching the Olympics or something? That's okay because Spaceflight101 cobbled together this high def video of Curiosity's descent from some high-res images and, man, is it quite a sight.
Ever since the Curiosity Mars rover landed on the red planet, we've been waiting for it to do something really cool. Sure it's been up there snapping away with its cameras like a tourist, but now it has unleashed its mighty ChemCam laser, and started shooting a nearby rock.
Engineers and staff from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, including plenty of the folks responsible for landing the Curiosity rover safely on Mars, took to Reddit to answer any and all questions about the Mars Science Laboratory mission. Well, they tried to answer — the session exploded and right now has over 7,000 comments. Here, we've collected 10 questions and answers we felt stand out from the bunch. The questions from Redditors and answers from the team at JPL are presented unedited.
Think updating your iPhone takes forever? Try updating the Curiosity Mars rover from 350 million miles away. That's exactly what NASA did over the course of four days last week, and it all went down without a single boo-boo.
If you're part of the NASA Curiosity rover team, what could be more awesome than successfully landing on Mars? Actually, nothing. But a music video paying homage to your efforts as the revitalization of NASA cool is a close second.
Since Curiosity landed on Mars, the rover's been busy beaming back photos for us earthlings to salivate over. One fan took the high-res photos that Curiosity shot from its second day on Mars and stitched them into a 360-degree interactive panorama. This is probably the closest you'll ever get to visiting Mars — for now, anyway.
To put all the megapixel nuts in their place, NASA's released this high-resolution color mosaic of Mars stitched together from 79 photos. We can't remember the last time we were so enchanted by rocky mesas.