Reprogrammed Mars rover to begin two-year mission
Scheduled short drive part of routine to check out the rover's equipment
NASA's managers say the Curiosity Rover should be ready to take its
first short drive in about a week. It's the first leg of the rover's
two-year, $2.5 billion science mission on Mars.
'After the software transition, we go back to preparing the rover to be fully functional for surface operations,' mission manager Art Thompson reported in a news release. 'We are looking forward to the first drive in about a week.'
Removing the thousands of lines of code that were required for managing Curiosity's flight from Earth to Mars was deemed necessary to further the mission. The R10 software package instead provides Curiosity with full use of its autonomous driving system. Curiosity's 4 gigabytes of data storage capacity wasn't enough to hold the entire software suite in its brain simultaneously.
"After the software transition, we go back to preparing the rover to be fully functional for surface operations," mission manager Art Thompson reported in a news release. "We are looking forward to the first drive in about a week."
The short drive will be part of a routine to check out the rover's equipment in addition to the characteristics of the landing site in Gale Crater.
The Curiosity team released a partial panorama incorporating 79 high-resolution pictures from the rover's Mastcam imaging system this past week. Each picture in the mosaic measures 1,200 by 1,200 pixels, amounting to more than 120 megapixels.
This strip is a massively scaled-down version of the full high-resolution panorama provided by the Curiosity rover team. Even this limited view strengthened the impression that Gale Crater was reminiscent of California's Mojave Desert.
A part of the photo shows a section of the crater wall, north of the landing site, where a network of valleys enters Gale Crater from the outside. NASA's image advisory says this is the first view that scientists have had of a one-time river system from the Martian surface.
One remarkable difference between Gale and Mojave is the presence of a 3-mile-high mountain in the middle of the Martian crater, known as Mount Sharp or Aeolis Mons. The partial panorama doesn't show the full rise of the mountain to its peak, but even the limited view shows a dark, distant dune field, and then the layered buttes and mesas of the mountain's environs farther beyond.
During the mission, the rover will use a laser zapper, a drill, an onboard laboratory and other scientific instruments to determine how hospitable the region was to life in ancient times.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Mars, Rover, Mojave Desert, NASA, exploration
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