Talk about a growth-spurt. In one week, Curiosity grew by approximately 1 meter (3.5 feet) when spacecraft technicians and engineers attached the rover’s neck and head (called the Remote Sensing Mast) to its body. At around 2 meters (about 7 feet) tall, the next rover to Mars now stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Mounted on Curiosity’s mast are two navigation cameras (Navcams), two mast cameras (Mastcam), and the laser-carrying chemistry camera (ChemCam).
While it now has a good head on its shoulders, Curiosity’s “eyes” (the Mastcam), have been blindfolded in a protective silvery material. The Mastcam, containing two digital cameras, will soon be unveiled, so engineers can test its picture-taking abilities.
Like proud parents savoring their baby’s very first steps, mission team members gathered in a gallery above a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to watch the Mars Curiosity rover roll for the first time.
Mars Curiosity Takes First Baby Steps
Engineers and technicians wore “bunny suits” while guiding Curiosity through its first steps, or more precisely, its first roll on the clean room floor. The rover moved forward and backward about 1 meter (3.3 feet).
Mars Science Laboratory (aka Curiosity) is scheduled to launch in fall 2011 and land on the Red Planet in August 2012. Curiosity is the largest rover ever sent to Mars. It will carry 10 instruments that will help search an intriguing region of the Red Planet for two things:
1. Environments where life might have existed
2. The capacity of those environments to preserve evidence of past life