The robot Curiosity, carried by the spacecraft Mars Science Laboratory, will he find an organic life on Mars? Yes, if high-risk landing on the Martian surface, the August 6, 2012, goes well. We may know that Monday, August 6, 2012 at 5:31 UTC, 14 minutes after landing itself. This is the time it takes signals to traverse the space between Mars and Earth. Only 40% of ships sent to Mars have won their landing. Mars is the aster beloved by several generations of astronomers. This is the only planet we can see that the ground from our terrestrial observations. The general public watching the mysterious planet in a telescope, thinks he will contemplate what he sees in the best works reproducing the beautiful photographs on glossy paper. But it is only thanks to robots who land on Mars as you can see real pictures of the Martian surface. On August 6, 2012, Curiosity, the 900 kg robot technology, going anxious astronomers from NASA when attempting to land in the region Gale Crater, Mars. It must arise in the night between Sunday and Monday on the Red Planet, after a long journey of more than eight months. "Mars is friendly to us, we will have good conditions for Sunday... a dust storm spotted a few days ago has dissipated, giving way to a cloud of dust Benin enough," said the scientist Ashwin Vasavada. The $ 2.5 billion invested in Curiosity will help answer a anguishing question, are we alone in the universe? In fact the robot is in charge during the next 2 years, of a difficult task, find traces of past or present life on Mars. If there are traces of life on another planet in the solar system is that life is everywhere and is part of the matter in the Universe.
The landing of Curiosity is the most complex already made landings on Mars because the robot is too heavy for the impact is cushioned with balloons filled with air. To switch to 7 minutes, 21 243 km/h to 2.74 km/h, engineers had to design a huge "parachute" of 21 meters in diameter, equipped with retro-rockets that will allow robots to land like a feather. During those 7 minutes of terror, such as NASA calls, three probes in orbit around Mars, grab all the signals sent by Curiosity for scientists to retransmit Pasadena. Only after this high-risk approach that held its Curiosity Mars mission. With a nuclear generator, then leave it, eyes wide open for high-definition cameras, looking for an organic life. A laser will allow it to avoid obstacles that li.e. before him in closer than seven meters. Many other high-tech instruments to help the search for traces of life in a apparently sterile. Simple molecules of methane, enough scientists to happiness, as this gas is searched for the presence of life. To satisfy our curiosity, the robot will search, locate, drill, collect, analyze the matter of our universe and of course, send comments to us poor humans. But after more than eight months of "gestation" period of its journey into space, he will reach the risky step of its birth, of the Red Planet (see details of its output on the image opposite).
Image: Steps risky landing Curiosity. Despite the countless images of Mars, the planet remains very mysterious. The red planet is the most visited by the probes, because it is closest to the Earth but also because its environment could resemble the Earth in the past. This is why scientists are creative and try whether this lost world could harbor life in the far or recent past. The Curiosity rover was designed to answer this question. Landing of Curiosity is scheduled on August 6 at 5:31 UTC. To follow this risky landing on Mars, you can go to the link Enjoy Space and the Space City to see the event live video from the JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) NASA in California:
Probes sent to Mars
Since 1964, Mars receives visit. Many probes and robots have visited this planet with varying degrees of success. 1964: Soviet probe Mars 1 is the first to reach the Red Planet, but radio contact was lost before arrival. 1965: U.S. probe Mariner 4 sent to Earth some pictures and data of temperature and pressure. 1969: U.S. probes Mariner 6 and Mariner 7 showed the southern cap of Mars. 1972: Soviet probes Mars 2 and March 3, first probes into orbit around the Red Planet. March 3 was photographed Mars for nine months. 1972: U.S. probe Mariner 9 photographed Mars for nearly a year and the Martian moon Phobos. 1974: Soviet probe Mars 5 sent the first data on the composition of Martian soil. 1976: American probes Viking 1 and Viking 2, first probes to land on Mars. They found no signs of life, but have photographed the two Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos. 1989: Soviet probe Phobos 2 photographed Mars and Phobos. Failure of the orbiter was to put a probe on Phobos.
1999: U.S. probe Mars Global Surveyor has completed mapping of Mars. It has detected cracks dug by water. 1997: U.S. probe Pathfinder and Sojourner his motorized robot discovered that Mars had liquid water and a denser atmosphere. 2002: U.S. probe Mars Odyssey detected in the Martian subsurface hydrogen and ice at the poles. 2004: European probe Mars Express confirmed the presence of ice at the poles and methane into the atmosphere. The Beagle 2 probe, which was due to land has been lost. 2004: U.S. probe Mars Explorer Rover consists of two motorized rovers Spirit and Opportunity. They confirmed that Mars once contained salty oceans. 2006: U.S. probe Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has detected ice at the bottom of craters and several minerals associated with water. 2008: U.S. probe Phoenix which confirmed the presence of frozen water. 2012: U.S. probe Mars Science Laboratory equipped motorized robot with the famous Curiosity. Other missions are already scheduled to lift the secrets of this mysterious planet.
Image: Curiosity as a feather landed on Mars, thanks to "parachute" of 21 meters in diameter, fitted with retro-rockets. Photo: Reuters, Nasa
The great technological adventure began
The Martian day is almost equal to Earth's day, it lasts 24 hours 42 minutes, this allows the engineers at JPL (jet propulsion laboratory) to communicate with Curiosity at the rate of one day Earth to the planet Mars. They work during the Martian night and send instructions to the robot, in the morning. Curiosity applies all day and transmits the results in the evening. Communication with the robot Curiosity is via three probes placed in orbit around Mars, which serve as relay transmission. Curiosity is thus all the time reachable from the Earth. The robot has 3 specialized antennas, different powers to receive instructions and send the data collected by the sensor relays in orbit. The transmission rate is seemingly ridiculous but sufficient data flows to relay speed of 1.35 Mbits / s transmit and 256 Kbits / s down. Under the robot there are 8 Hazcams cameras, filming the ground permanently black and white and a 3D camera with a resolution of 1 megapixel, to avoid obstacles. Mastcams other two cameras located in the robot's head, filming in HD and 3D color with a resolution of 2 megapixels.
Mahli another small camera with a flash, is capable of photographing objects microscopic 12.5 microns. ChemCam him his laser can target a rock and analyzing the gas emerges to deduce its composition. His arm is 1.9 meters with a drill, a brush and a mini excavator to retrieve rocks and store samples in two compartments inside the robot where they will be analyzed. Engineers have sought above all the strength and reliability, the electronic brain of the robot should not have more than one failure in 15 years. It is equipped with a small processor at 200 MHz, a PowerPC 750, like the old Mac G3 Apple between 1997 and 2001. RAM is 256 MB and the storage is 2 GB of flash memory. The operating system VxWorks, published by a subsidiary of Intel, is hosted in another flash update by downloading it from the Earth. All these devices operate with nuclear generator that stores electricity from the heat produced by the natural decay of plutonium dioxide, two rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The autonomy of the robot is estimated at 687 days, the duration of one Martian year.
Image: The landing of the Curiosity robot is a real achievement. For proof just look at the short film by NASA.