Space Saturday: Holy Crap, Another Mars Rover!

Guys, how is this kind of stuff not front page news on every website ever? Did everyone else know about it, and just not me? Somebody’s got to call me next time.

There’s going to be another Mars Rover, (or “Mars Space Laboratory”) this one called “Curiosity.”  It was named (and this is adorable) by a twelve year old girl, Clara Ma, who entered a contest to name the rover. Aww! Oh man, and she got to go to JPL? Now I’m just jealous.

And now she has Immortal Graffiti

It’s set to launch sometime in late November to late December this year, and will land on Mars in August 2012.

Curiosity is mainly going to be investigating whether conditions were favorable at any point on Mars for microbial life. It’s going to be able to take samples of rocks and sand, and process those samples for evidence of past life, which is amazing.

It’s going to have a bunch of other science-y tools on it, including some cameras capable of taking extremely close-up pictures of the environment, a x-ray spectrometer, a device that can characterize the radiation on the surface of Mars which is, I quote “necessary for planning human exploration of Mars,” (which means they’re at least thinking about going there!!!) and a laser/telescope combo thing that can analyze the chemical makeup of rocks and soil.

Radiation Assessment Detector

I don’t have much more to add, here. I’ll probably make another post about Curiosity closer to its launch date. This is just making me so happy, right now, knowing that we are, in fact, sending something to Mars in the immediate future, that tests and data are being gathered, even if an actual manned flight is thirty or forty years – or even longer – in the future. Progress is progress.

And is it wrong to say that this looks like it’s going to be the coolest rover yet? It’s going to be twice as big, I think, if I’m reading the information correctly, and it has all sorts of cool radiation reading doohickeys and friggin lasers. Seriously, there are artists renderings of the finished rover, and all of them seem to have at least one laser beam in them.

You can got to NASA’s page about the mission for more information. Curiosity also actually has a Twitter account. Hell yeah.

(All images are from NASA’s website.)

(Ed note – All unconventional grammar and colloquialisms in this post can be attributed to ‘space fever,’ i.e. the obsession of the inflicted with science that is somehow concerned with extra-planetary research. This disease has only one cure (the film “Armageddon,”) considered too cruel by many to be used on human subjects.)

2 Responses to “Space Saturday: Holy Crap, Another Mars Rover!”
  1. DED says:

    You know, you could always join the Planetary Society. If you don’t know them, they’re a non-profit space exploration advocacy group. They lobby Congress, scrape up money to provide grants to researchers, experiments on probes and they’re working on a solar sail. Oh, and they’re the ones that kept SETI going when the gov’t stopped funding it.

    • carolkirkman says:

      Thanks for the link, I just might. I already belong to the Mars Society, which is doing some pretty neat research re: our ability to get to Mars and stay there once we land, but I am all about supporting and advocating for space exploration.

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