Curiosity (rover)

Curiosity Self-Portrait at 'Big Sky' Drilling Site.jpg
Self-portrait of Curiosity located at the foothill of Mount Sharp (October 6, 2015)
Mission typeMars rover
COSPAR ID2011-070A
Mission durationPrimary: 668 sols (687 days)
Current: 2413 sols (2479 days) since landing[1]
Spacecraft properties
Dry massRover only: 899 kg (1,982 lb)[2]
Start of mission
Launch dateNovember 26, 2011, 15:02:00 (2011-11-26UTC15:02Z) UTC[3][4][5]
RocketAtlas V 541 (AV-028)
Launch siteCape Canaveral LC-41[6]
Orbital parameters
Reference systemHeliocentric (transfer)
Mars rover
Spacecraft componentRover
Landing dateAugust 6, 2012, 05:17:57 UTC SCET[7][8]
Landing siteAeolis Palus ("Bradbury Landing"[9]) in the crater Gale
(4°35′22″S 137°26′30″E / 4°35′22″S 137°26′30″E / Curiosity))[10][11]
Distance covered20.16 km (12.53 mi)[12]
as of 13 February 2019
Mars rovers (NASA)

Curiosity is a car-sized rover designed to explore the crater Gale on Mars as part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL).[3] Curiosity was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011, at 15:02 UTC and landed on Aeolis Palus inside Gale on Mars on August 6, 2012, 05:17 UTC.[7][8][13] The Bradbury Landing site was less than 2.4 km (1.5 mi) from the center of the rover's touchdown target after a 560 million km (350 million mi) journey.[9][14] The rover's goals include an investigation of the Martian climate and geology; assessment of whether the selected field site inside Gale has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, including investigation of the role of water; and planetary habitability studies in preparation for human exploration.[15][16]

In December 2012, Curiosity's two-year mission was extended indefinitely,[17] and on August 5, 2017, NASA celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Curiosity rover landing.[18][19] The rover is still operational, and as of May 21, 2019, Curiosity has been on Mars for 2413 sols (2479 total days) since landing on August 6, 2012. (See current status.)

Curiosity's design serves as the basis for the planned Mars 2020 rover, that will carry different scientific instruments.

Goals and objectives

Animation of the Curiosity rover, showing its capabilities

As established by the Mars Exploration Program, the main scientific goals of the MSL mission are to help determine whether Mars could ever have supported life, as well as determining the role of water, and to study the climate and geology of Mars.[15][16] The mission results will also help prepare for human exploration.[16] To contribute to these goals, MSL has eight main scientific objectives:[20]

  1. Determine the nature and inventory of organic carbon compounds
  2. Investigate the chemical building blocks of life (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur)
  3. Identify features that may represent the effects of biological processes (biosignatures and biomolecules)
Geological and geochemical
  1. Investigate the chemical, isotopic, and mineralogical composition of the Martian surface and near-surface geological materials
  2. Interpret the processes that have formed and modified rocks and soils
Planetary process
  1. Assess long-timescale (i.e., 4-billion-year) Martian atmospheric evolution processes
  2. Determine present state, distribution, and cycling of water and carbon dioxide
Surface radiation
  1. Characterize the broad spectrum of surface radiation, including galactic and cosmic radiation, solar proton events and secondary neutrons. As part of its exploration, it also measured the radiation exposure in the interior of the spacecraft as it traveled to Mars, and it is continuing radiation measurements as it explores the surface of Mars. This data would be important for a future crewed mission.[21]

About one year into the surface mission, and having assessed that ancient Mars could have been hospitable to microbial life, the MSL mission objectives evolved to developing predictive models for the preservation process of organic compounds and biomolecules; a branch of paleontology called taphonomy.[22]

Other Languages
asturianu: Curiosity
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català: Curiosity
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español: Curiosity
Esperanto: Curiosity
Bahasa Indonesia: Curiosity (rover)
Kapampangan: Curiosity rover
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norsk nynorsk: Curiosity
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Curiosity (marsyurar)
Simple English: Curiosity rover
کوردی: کیوریاستی
svenska: Curiosity
粵語: 好奇號
中文: 好奇號