Constructed at the Goddard Space Laboratory by Paul Mahaffy and his team, SAM can analyse the chemicals found in Martian rocks.
The discovery of organic compounds on Mars would cause huge excitement right across the globe. Together with liquid water, they are regarded as essentials for life. Curiosity’s other tests will reveal whether the ancient Martian environment could have allowed life itself to form from these building blocks.
Imagine a quarterback making a pass, accurately, from California to London! That’s Brian Portock’s job on the Mars Mission Curiosity rover landing.
Joel Krajewski “To get the distance scales approximately similar, the quarterback here is throwing a pass 30 metres, 40 metres away. But Brian’s target of Mars is hundreds of millions of kilometres away. It’s similar to as if this quarterback here were throwing a football to a receiver in, say, London, and needing to hit his mark.”
The state-of-the-art instrumentation on-board Curiosity will allow the rover to sample and analyse rocks in-situ on Mars.
John Grotzinger “What Curiosity can do, which has never been done before on a Rover mission, is to actually drill a hole in the rock, take the powder and put it into the chemistry laboratory which is inside the Rover.”
Landing a billion dollar rover, on the surface of Mars is an incredibly complex challenge for NASA. Joel Krajewski, chief engineer, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains.
NASA’s engineers have never shied away from tricky landings. During the Apollo missions of the 1970s, they weren’t satisfied just to put a man on the moon. But landing a car on Mars is an entirely different proposition.
Horizon has been behind the scenes with NASA’s team as they follow their rover across 350 million miles of space on an audacious mission to Mars.
Curiosity is the Mars rover, part of the billion dollar mission to explore the red planet to discover if life might have ever been possible.
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