Goodbye Curiosity

While spending a day at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory last week, I had a chance to say “good-bye” to NASA’s upcoming Mars rover, Curiosity (aka Mars Science Laboratory). Next week, the rover and its descent platform will be crated and driven by truck to a nearby March Air Reserve Base. From there, it will travel by cargo plane to Cape Canaveral in Florida for launch.

In this image, the spacecraft is undergoing final checks. (The rover can be seen on the left. Nearby on the right is its unique “Sky Crane”, a rocket propelled, floating landing platform from which the rover will rappel down to the surface of Mars).

Mars Science Laboratory ("Curiosity") being checked before it leaves for the launch pad. Photo: Reinhard Kargl, 2011

Here is JPL’s control room. From here, communication with all of JPL’s unmanned spacecraft is maintained around the clock.

JPL Operations Control Center. Photo: Reinhard Kargl, 2011. Click to enlarge.

I am very excited about this mission and hope everything goes well. It is very complex for sure. Here is a simulation of how it is supposed to work:


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Journalist and media professional currently based in Los Angeles, California. Focusing on science and technology.