NASA logo and link JPL logo
JPL Home EARTH Stars and Galaxies Science and Technology
Caltech Logo
Email News RSS Podcast Video
Mission to Mars' north poloar region Phoenix Mars Lander
Mission overview

 
 
Test Rover Aids Preparations in California for Curiosity Rover on Mars
  › Larger image
Mars Science Laboratory mission team members ran mobility tests on California sand dunes in early May 2012 in preparation for operating the Curiosity rover, currently en route to Mars, after its landing in Mars' Gale Crater. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
› Full image and caption
 
Tools:
› Print this article
› Join e-mail list
Mojave Desert Tests Prepare for NASA Mars Roving
May 11, 2012

Team members of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission took a test rover to Dumont Dunes in California's Mojave Desert this week to improve knowledge of the best way to operate a similar rover, Curiosity, currently flying to Mars for an August landing.

The test rover that they put through paces on various sandy slopes has a full-scale version of Curiosity's mobility system, but it is otherwise stripped down so that it weighs about the same on Earth as Curiosity will weigh in the lesser gravity of Mars.

Information collected in these tests on windward and downwind portions of dunes will be used by the rover team in making decisions about driving Curiosity on dunes near a mountain in the center of Gale Crater.

First, however, the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, launched Nov. 26, 2011, must put Curiosity safely onto the ground. Safe landing on Mars is never assured, and this mission will use innovative methods to land the heaviest vehicle in the smallest target area ever attempted on Mars. Advances in landing heavier payloads more precisely are steps toward eventual human missions to Mars.

Curiosity is on track for landing the evening of Aug. 5, 2012, PDT (early on Aug. 6, Universal Time and EDT) to begin a two-year prime mission. Researchers plan to use Curiosity to study layers in Gale Crater's central mound, Mount Sharp. The mission will investigate whether the area has ever offered an environment favorable for microbial life.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

More information about Curiosity is online at http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ .  You can follow the mission on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity  and on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .






Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

2012-135

› News releases archives

 

 

 

 
Related Links
› NASA Phoenix site

› University of Arizona Phoenix site

› JPL on Facebook and Twitter

› Landing Press Kit (3Mb - PDF)

› Launch Press Kit (6.5Mb - PDF)

› Mission Fact Sheet (244Kb - PDF)

› NASA Mars Exploration site

› NASA/JPL Landing Blog

Other Missions at Mars
› Mars Exploration Rovers

› JPL's Rover News and Image

› Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

› Mars Odyssey

› Mars Express

 
   usa gov PRIVACY     |    FAQ     |     FEEDBACK Site Manager: Susan Watanabe
Webmasters: Tony Greicius, Martin Perez