Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Curiosity rover on track for early August landing on Mars

Date:
July 31, 2012
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
Eight days before reaching Mars, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft performed a flight-path adjustment scheduled more than nine months ago. The trajectory correction maneuver completed late Saturday may be the last one the mission needs before landing day, though two further opportunities remain on its schedule in case they are needed. The spacecraft is on course for delivering the mission's car-size rover, Curiosity, to a landing target beside a Martian mountain at about 10:31 p.m. PDT on Aug. 5. (1:31 a.m. on Aug. 6, EDT). After landing, the rover will spend a two-year prime mission studying whether the area has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for life.

This is an artist's concept of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft during its cruise phase between launch and final approach to Mars. The spacecraft includes a disc-shaped cruise stage (on the left) attached to the aeroshell. The spacecraft's rover (Curiosity) and descent stage are tucked inside the aeroshell.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Eight days before reaching Mars, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft performed a flight-path adjustment scheduled more than nine months ago.

The trajectory correction maneuver completed late Saturday may be the last one the mission needs before landing day, though two further opportunities remain on its schedule in case they are needed.

The spacecraft is on course for delivering the mission's car-size rover, Curiosity, to a landing target beside a Martian mountain at about 10:31 p.m. PDT on Aug. 5. (1:31 a.m. on Aug. 6, EDT). After landing, the rover will spend a two-year prime mission studying whether the area has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for life.

The spacecraft used two brief thruster firings totaling about six seconds to adjust its trajectory at about 10 p.m. PDT on July 28 (1 a.m. on July 29, EDT). This maneuver had been on the mission's schedule since before launch on Nov. 26, 2011. It altered the flight path less than any of the spacecraft's three previous trajectory correction maneuvers on the way from Earth to Mars.

The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft had been on a course in recent weeks that would have hit a point at the top of the Martian atmosphere about 13 miles (21 kilometers) east of the target entry point. On landing day, it can steer enough during its flight through the upper atmosphere to correct for missing the target entry point by a few miles and still land on the intended patch of Mars real estate. The mission's engineers and managers rated the projected 13-mile miss big enough to warrant a correction maneuver.

"The purpose of this maneuver is to move the point at which Curiosity enters the atmosphere by about 13 miles," said Tomas Martin-Mur of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., chief of the mission's navigation team. "The first look at telemetry and tracking data afterwards indicates the maneuver succeeded as planned."

The thruster firings altered the spacecraft's velocity by about one-fortieth of one mile per hour (one centimeter per second). Curiosity will enter Mars' atmosphere at a speed of about 13,200 mph (5,900 meters per second).

Opportunities for two further course corrections are scheduled in the final 48 hours before landing, if needed.

"I will not be surprised if this was our last trajectory correction maneuver," Martin Mur said of Saturday's event. "We will be monitoring the trajectory using the antennas of the Deep Space Network to be sure Curiosity is staying on the right path for a successful entry, descent and landing."

Descent from the top of Mars' atmosphere to the surface will employ bold techniques enabling use of a smaller target area and heavier landed payload than were possible for any previous Mars mission. These innovations, if successful, will place a well-equipped mobile laboratory into a locale especially well-suited for its mission of discovery. The same innovations advance NASA toward capabilities needed for human missions to Mars.

As of July 30, the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft carrying the rover Curiosity will have traveled about 343 million miles (555 million kilometers) of its 352-million-mile (567-million-kilometer) flight to Mars.

JPL, 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 .


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Curiosity rover on track for early August landing on Mars." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731151429.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2012, July 31). Curiosity rover on track for early August landing on Mars. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731151429.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Curiosity rover on track for early August landing on Mars." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731151429.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

AFP (July 30, 2014) The European Space Agency's fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5) is takes off to the International Space Station on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

AP (July 30, 2014) Arianespace launched a rocket Tuesday from French Guiana carrying a robotic cargo ship to deliver provisions to the International Space Station. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins