You know surely all the rover Curiosity, this six-wheeled semi-autonomous vehicle sent on March. The photographs taken by the rover are now available on Eyes of the Universe, it is an opportunity to learn a bit more than this mission.

The mission by the numbers

  • Departure from the Earth: 26 November 2011
  • Arrived on Mars: August 6, 2012
  • Travel time: 8 months
  • Distance travelled by the probe to go to Mars: 570 million kilometres
  • Speed during the trip: 21 000 km/h
  • Length of the assignment: 687 Earth days / not over yet (extended)
  • Distance travelled by the rover on Mars: on the day of the publication of this article, 14.99 km (where is Curiosity?)
  • Total cost of the project is estimated at: $ 2.5 billion.

Interesting questions

How teams on the ground they communicate with the rover?

Curiosity is autonomous travel with cameras and sensors, but it needs levels of the Earth for its missions and its route. There are two possibilities to connect with the Earth: either directly when the position of the Earth and March is good (8 Kbps speed), either using the orbiters relay data (flow rate of 2Mbps) but the send window is much shorter: 10 minutes per day per orbiters. It is this method that is widely used. In all cases, transmission takes 8 to 42 minutes and is done by radio waves.

Credit: Joshua Kovitz, Jean Paul Santos and Yahya Rahmat-Samii, CC BY-NC-ND

Credit: Joshua Kovitz, Jean Paul Santos and Yahya Rahmat-Samii, CC BY-NC-ND

How big is this thing? A big remote control car?

No, Curiosity is the size of a Mini Cooper, see instead:

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Great, it’s going as fast as a Mini Cooper?

No, in fact, it is capable of reaching a maximum speed of 4.5 cm per second, 270 m per hour. Curiosity was designed to drive approximately 20 kilometres. This is the way he borrowed:

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

And don’t think that a “small” ride got anything risky for a machine of this size, look at the sudden damage by its wheels:



What is the source of energy? Solar panels?

No, Curiosity using a thermoelectric generator powered by a radioactive compound, it is more convenient at night or during the winter which lasts 154 Martian days (or a bit more than 158 Earth days) where the temperature can drop to-100 ° C: the rover to then need more energy to maintain a sufficient temperature-sensitive scientific instruments and may even continue to run , where his predecessor had to get “standby” until spring! The rover course only a few tens of meters per day, it runs about 6 h Martian (or a little more than 6 Earth hours).

Curiosity is the first vehicle to go to Mars?

No, this is the 2 rovers that preceded (left) and Curiosity (right):



What is the mission of Curiosity?

It is ‘ currently has four main objectives:

  • determine if the right conditions for life could exist on Mars;
  • characterize the climate of Mars;
  • clarify the geology of Mars;
  • prepare the human exploration of the red planet.

Finally, photos

Here are the images that I found the most beautiful:


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

All other photos are available at this address.

Credits & Sources:

Sources: / Dan Limonadi (NASA)
The express / Caroline Politi
Curiosity landed on Mars! (NASA) / Sylvestre Huet
Mars Science Laboratory / Jet Propulsion Laboratory: “Where is Curiosity?”
Wikipedia: Exploration of Mars by Curiosity
Wikipedia: March Science Laboratory

Photo credits:

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