NASA launches a dream machine for Mars exploration


24/11/2011

The size of a car and equipped as a complete laboratory, developed by NASA’s new Mars rover surpasses its predecessors in size and capability. Running Kureziti as called by the researchers, with long lever (2 meters) and welded to it a jackhammer and a laser to break off samples of Martian red rock is scheduled for Saturday. Feature of the new all-terrain vehicle is that it can analyze rocks and soil with unprecedented accuracy. "It’s just a dream machine for the scientists involved in the study of Mars," said Ashwin Vasavada (Ashwin Vasavada), project manager of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Once the rover Kureziti will be on the red planet, it will look for organic and carbon compounds. While the rover can not even detect the presence of living organisms in different samples, but scientists hope to at least find out if Mars (or once existed a) the conditions for microbial life.

Kureziti will be "the largest and most complex kind of equipment that has ever been found on the surfaces of different planets," as noted by Doug Makkuishn (Doug McCuistion), director of the Mars exploration program.

Larger than 3 meters long, 2.5 meters wide and with a mast height of 2 meters, Kureziti, which is two times more than the previously developed ATVs Spirit and Opotyuniti, weighs approximately 1 tonne and contains 10 kinds of scientific instruments. The official name of the rover - Mars Science Laboratory (Mars Science Laboratory) or abbreviated MSL.

On the surface of Mars Kureziti will be delivered first to the spaceship, and then using jet equipment and systems like air-leash cranes, helicopters are used for the introduction of heavy equipment to inaccessible points on the Earth. No air bags similar to those that were used to transport space unmanned Mars Paffainder in 1997 and all-terrain vehicles Spirit and Opotyuniti in 2004 will not be applied - Kureziti too heavy for that.

NASA officials have called Kureziti capstone research in a number of flights in order to study the solar system. But they do not hide their anxiety associated with the launch of the new Mars rover. The fact that Kureziti consists of about 5 tons of plutonium, more than enough for all-terrain vehicle on the surface of Mars for two years. The issue of volatility rover was resolved with the help of a generator running on nuclear power, which prefer sun, as it allows for increased payload and provides flexibility. Plutonium is placed in a shell composed of several layers of protection for safety in case of a launch accident.

Once the rover will be delivered safely to Mars, it will begin to explore the terrain with high-definition cameras and lasers mounted in the form of an eye at the top of its mast. The laser will aim at soil and rocks at a distance of about 6 meters, determining their chemical composition. All-terrain vehicle is also equipped with a small weather station for temperature correction of Mars, humidity and wind, as well as a radiation detector.

Despite these upgrades, Kureziti will move at a speed of not more than one-tenth of a mile per hour, which has been featured in previous rovers. But the researchers expect that it will be able to go more than 12 miles during its two-year mission. If after that the rover will still work, it will be able to reach even the top of the crater.

The next logical step in Mars exploration, as noted by Steve Squyres (Steve Squyres) from Cornell University, who led the team of scientists working on the launch of Spirit’s Opotyuniti and become a robot mission, which will be the delivery of samples of soil and rock from Mars to Earth for analysis.

Original: Physorg com


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