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Curiosity, first images of Martian soil

Curiosity, the first sod on the Martian soil

 Automatic translation  Automatic translation Updated June 01, 2013

Mars is the planet darling of several generations of astronomers. This is the only planet that we can see the ground from our terrestrial observations. It is only due to land on Mars robots that can see real images of the Martian soil. October 15, 2012, Curiosity, 900 kg robot technology has amazed astronomers from NASA when they received this image of the first sod in the Martian soil. Will they find traces of past or present life on Mars?
If evidence of life on another planet in the solar system is that life is everywhere and is part of the matter in the Universe. Simple enough methane molecules happiness scientists, because this gas is desired to detect the presence of life. To satisfy our curiosity, the robot will search, locate, drill, sample, analyze the matter in the universe and of course, send comments to us poor humans. ChemCam his laser him can target a rock and analyzing the gas which emerges to deduce its composition. Its 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. October 7, 2012, a giant scoop came on the screens of NASA to the attention of the whole of humanity. This image taken by the camera mast Curiosity, shows the first "morsure" made ​​by the shovel quick robot.


The shovel Rover picked up a first spoonful of Martian soil, the first sample was taken Oct. 7, 2012.
The sample was processed through a sieve to exclude particles larger than 0.006 inch (150 microns), roughly the width of a human hair.
Can be seen in the fine dust and sand from the Martian soil, the underlayer, as it would appear in lighting conditions similar to those we have on Earth, which greatly helps to analyze the field.
During this mission is expected to last two years, the researchers will use all instruments of Curiosity to determine whether Gale Crater area could one day find themselves in favorable environmental conditions for microbial life.
Until now, experts have identified two types of compounds on Mars: fine dust and sand.
"The majority of the surface of Mars is covered with dust and we had an incomplete knowledge of mineralogy. We now know that this is mineralogically similar to basaltic material with significant amounts of feldspar, pyroxene and olivine, which was unexpected. Approximately half of the soil is a non-crystalline material, such as glass or volcanic products of wear of the glass.", Says co-investigator David Bish instrument path (diffractometer and fluorescence spectrometer X).

 Curiosity first images of Martian soil

Image: After discovering the mineralogy of the Martian soil, this picture shows scientists, the basement immediate Mars, under the first layer of sand and fine dust. NASA Curiosity picked up by some Martian soil for analysis in more detail. Credit image: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Main instruments of Curiosity


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. As there are 8 robot Hazcam cameras, filming the ground permanently black and white and a 3D camera with a resolution of 1 megapixel, to avoid obstacles. Mastcam 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 analyze the gas which emerges to deduce its composition. Articulating arm 1.9 meter is provided with a drill, a brush and a mini digger to retrieve and store the rock samples in two compartments inside which the robot should be analyzed in the SAM instrument. Sat 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 are powered by 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.

Main instruments 
MastCamCameras spectrometers
MAHLIMicroscope camera
APXSX-ray spectrometer and alpha particle
ChemCamAn assembly comprising a laser spectrometer (LIBS)
CheMinDiffractometer and X-ray fluorescence spectrometer
SAMLaboratory chemical analysis
RADRadiation detector
DANNeutron detector
REMSWeather Station
MARDICamera down

The main instruments of the rover Curiosity.


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