|Gale Crator with Curiosit landing site circled (c) NASA JPL|
Tomorrow morning NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), “Curiosity”, will touch down on the Martian surface after a nearly 9 month, 567 million kilometre journey. Its destination, the foot of a mountain inside Gale Crater, which was formed when a meteor hit Mars 3.5-3.8 billion years ago.
There will be live coverage of the event on NASA TV leading up to and throughout the landing. The landing is scheduled for 05:31 UTC (which is 06:31 GMT, 22:31 PDT, 01:31 EDT).
Curiosity will assess whether Mars ever had an environment capable of supporting life, characterise the climate and geology and determine the preparations needed for manned exploratory missions. You can find lots of information about the purpose of the mission at the NASA JPL MSL website (wow they really do love their acronyms don’t they). http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/
This mission not only represents the next step in preparations for man’s leap towards the stars but also leaps in technology and innovation never before attempted and if you watch this video, which featured as Astronomy Picture of the Day on July 31st 2012 you might get some idea as to why.
Challenges of getting to Mars: Curiosity’s seven minutes of terror - http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120731.html
|(c) NASA JPL|
Ian O’Neill the Space Science Producer for Discovery News also explains Curiosity’s role on Mars and how it compares to previous Martian missions and what makes it so special.
There are also a number of news articles which highlight different aspects of the mission,
Astrobiology objectives from Dr Stuart Clark- http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/across-the-universe/2012/aug/05/curiosity-rover-nasa-life-mars?CMP=twt_gu
Mars Orbiter plans for a Curiosity close-up - http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/08/mars-orbiter-plans-for-a-curiosity-close-up.html
Reuters on the make-or-break landing attempt - http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/05/usa-mars-idUSL2E8J451220120805
Also make sure you follow @MarsCuriosity on Twitter
If NASA are able to ‘stick the landing’, and I am sure all who are watching will have their fingers firmly crossed; then, thanks to Curiosity and the instruments carried on-board we will learn the biological history of our rust red neighbour and perhaps lay the ground work for creating its future.