NASA might not be able to monitor the Mars landing of the most advanced Curiosity robot ever to be sent to another planet.
NASA’s Curiosity rover is due to touch down on the Martian surface in early August, but a malfunction in another NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars will mean we will all have to wait longer to find out if the landing is successful.
According to a NASA press release, the car-sized Mars rover Curiosity is on schedule for 5. August landing on the red planet. The Curiosity rover’s mission involves 2 years of nuanced exploration of the planet’s surface.
NASA scientists have reported that landing of the Curiosity rover will not be a simple matter. Associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate - John Grunsfield, calls the Curiosity robot landing as ‘ the hardest NASA mission ever attempted in the history of robotic planetary exploration. ‘
Nasa might not be able to follow the progress of its big Mars Curiosity rover all the way to the surface
NASA scientists said they were looking for evidence that life existed on the red planet billions of years ago. This evidence could include indicators of water, sources of energy or sources of carbon — all of which are essential to sustain life.
Curiosity rover was launched into space in November last year from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The Curiosity robot will go from 13,000 mph to zero in 7 minutes, and will land in Gale Crater, which NASA researchers think held water billions of years ago.
Doug McCuistion, the director of Nasa’s Mars exploration programme said : ‘ Odyssey right now looks like it may not be in the same spot that we’d expected it to be. There may be some changes in real-time communication. We’ll let you know as this develops; we still have more work to do. But keep in mind, there is no risk to Curiosity landing. It does not have an effect on that. ‘
Curiosity’s Mars landing even more difficult than thought / NASA’s space-robot mission
The Curiosity rover is packed with a number of different laboratory instruments that will allow it to conduct a detailed analysis of the Martian environment. One of the mission’s major points is to assess the suitability of Mars for life.
The Curiosity robot will collect various Martian rocks and soils and subject them to chemical analysis. This, combined with other methods of analyzing samples and viewing the landscape, should provide insight into whether or not Mars could have ever been suitable for supporting life.
NASA’s Curiosity rover will also assess potential risks to life, such as environmental radiation. The information collected will be used to plan a future manned mission to the red planet.
President Barack Obama has set the 2030s as the target decade for reaching Mars. A manned landing on Mars, however, would involve an even more difficult and heavier lander than Curiosity rover. Curiosity’s landing process should help scientists devise a way to eventually land a manned capsule on Mars.