In order to find out if life has ever existed on Mars scientists set a bold goal. They wanted to know if the planet was safe now for exploration. They used technology that had never been tried before to complete a complicated and dangerous journey. The robotic rover would be all alone on Mars and she would have to learn to adapt alongside her human handlers.
After landing, the descent imagery camera continued to work, giving them an extra eye on the ground throughout the mission. It was the most accurate Mars landing yet achieved –only 10 km away from the base of Mount Sharp, which is the ultimate goal.
The high gain antenna allows direct conversation with Earth. Next, the mast is raised and a series of images become the first selfie.
The deck of the rover is clear and ready for action. It takes the team the next seven Mars days to upload and check the new software. A day on Mars lasts 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35.24 seconds. That’s nearly 40 minutes longer than on Earth.
This rolling lab was designed and built at NASA Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Every component was tested, tweaked, retested and refined. They invented and perfected its supersonic parachute design by testing and photographing its inflation over and over again.
Though Mars is now over twenty minutes away at the speed of light, the engineers closely monitor the rover through radios, orbiters and big dishes to make sure it’s in the best condition. All this is necessary as they keep piecing together the story of water and listening for the narrative of life echoing in the rocks of Mount Sharp. Find out more now.