Curiosity Rover By Abby Bradshaw and Paige Taylor
Objectives • Search for and characterize a variety of rocks and soils could hold clues to past water activity. • Determine the distribution and composition of minerals, rocks, and soils surrounding the landing sites. • Determine what geologic processes have shaped the local terrain and influenced the chemistry.
Objectives (con’t) • Perform "ground truth" -- calibration and validation -- of surface observations made by Mars orbiter instruments. • Search for iron-containing minerals. • Characterize the mineralogy and textures of rocks and soils and determine the processes that created them. • Search for geological clues to the environmental conditions that existed when liquid water was present. (Decide whether those environments were conducive to life).
Engineering/Science • $2.5 billion project whose primary focus is chemistry and geology • Encased in a capsule-like protective shell, the nuclear-powered rover capped an eight-month voyage as it streaked into the thin Martian atmosphere at 17 times the speed of sound. • A key focus of interest for Curiosity scientists was looking for evidence of Martian habitats that may have supported microbial life.
Engineering/Science (con’t) • The rover comes equipped with an array of sophisticated instruments capable of analyzing samples of soil, rocks and atmosphere on the spot and beaming results back to Earth (Ex. laser gun). • Chemically analyze the soil near its landing site. • Explore rocks and pebbles that appear to have been transported by flowing water to a fan-shaped region near the landing site.
Results • Determined the age of a Martian rock • Found evidence the planet could have sustained microbial life • Taken the first readings of radiation on the surface • Shown how natural erosion could reveal the building blocks of life