NASA: Curiosity Team Studies Martian Rock, Chooses Not to Drill ‘Bonanza King’


China stakes its Claims on Mars with Rover Bound for Red Planet in 2020

China-Rover-CORB

For The IndependentJames Vincent writes: Sovereignty in outer space is always a tricky subject, but out of all the lifeless rocks in the solar system it’s safe to say that Mars is more American than most. It may not have a US flag crumpled in mid-wave on the surface, but every robot that’s ever crawled successfully on the planet’s surface has been made in the US. Not for much longer.

Last week China announced that it was planning send a rover to Mars by 2020 and bring back samples from the Red Planet just 10 years later. Ouyang Ziyuan, the Chinese scientist who oversaw the country’s successful Moon rover mission in December last year, said that this would be just the first step in the country’s plans to explore the solar system – with further plans involving sending probes to the Sun.

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The US aerospace industry may be having something of a minor boom at the moment as private companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX celebrate engineering successes, but America still can’t match China’s budget nor its concentration of political will.

Scott Pace, a former Nasa administrator and director of the Space Policy Insitute at George Washington University, told The Independent that China’s plans were “ambitious but not impossible,” adding that despite their success on the Moon, Mars is “much, much more difficult to reach and operate on than the Moon”.

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Of the seven rovers that have been sent to Mars only the four US missions have been successful. A pair of Soviet rovers sent in 1971 failed to stay in touch with Earth for longer than 20 seconds and in 2003 the Beagle 2’s ‘Planetary Undersurface Tool’ (only a ‘rover’ in the most generous of terms) failed to even make it to the surface. Read the rest of this entry »


Interactive Panorama Lets You Stand on Mars

Caked in red silt, NASA’s Curiosity rover looks like it’s been trekking through a Martian dust storm in this latest interactive panorama. But nothing can tarnish the joy of seeing this incredible machine hard at work on another planet.

The dust-covered robot is currently preparing for its third drilling operation on Mars, at a site nicknamed the Kimberley. In recent days, engineers have inspected and scrubbed the dust from a spot on a rock they named “Windjana,” after a gorge in Western Australia. (Too bad the rover can’t turn its wire bristle dust removal tool on itself.) Curiosity has already done preparatory drill work and will soon sample some of Windjana’s interior. The rover will run this sample through a series of tests to give scientists a better understanding of the history of water in this area...(read more)

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NASA’S Mars Curiosity Debuts Autonomous Navigation

This mosaic of images from the Navigation Camera (Navcam) on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows the scene from the rover's position on the 376th Martian day, or sol, of the mission (Aug. 27, 2013). The images were taken right after Curiosity completed the first drive during which it used autonomous navigation on unknown ground. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech › Full image and caption

This mosaic of images from the Navigation Camera (Navcam) on NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity shows the scene from the rover’s position on the 376th Martian day, or sol, of the mission (Aug. 27, 2013). The images were taken right after Curiosity completed the first drive during which it used autonomous navigation on unknown ground. Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech                                                                                              › Full image and caption

PASADENA, Calif. – NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has used autonomous navigation for the first time, a capability that lets the rover decide for itself how to drive safely on Mars.

This latest addition to Curiosity’s array of capabilities will help the rover cover the remaining ground en route to Mount Sharp, where geological layers hold information about environmental changes on ancient Mars. The capability uses software that engineers adapted to this larger and more complex vehicle from a similar capability used by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which is also currently active on Mars.

Read the rest of this entry »


How to Build an Internet Controlled Mars Rover

How to Build an Internet Controlled Mars Rover

Okay, it’s not really on Mars, in this photo, but, this is an Internet Controlled Mars Rover

This Instructable will explain everything you need to know to build an internet controlled all terrain robot. This one just happens to be modelled on the Mars Curiosity rover. This robot is controllable from any internet enabled device so you can control this thing on the other side of the planet (or Mars if only it had the internet). This project is all powered by the amazing Electric Imp (an SD card sized device that allows you to connect anything to the internet) and an Arduino.

This project was created by Michael Shorter, Tom Metcalfe, Jon Rogers and Ali Napier at the Product Design Research Studio, Dundee.

More at: How to Build an Internet Controlled Mars Rover.