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NASA's Curiosity: A Martian Car

It’s an age-old question: Did life ever exist on Mars? More than five years ago, NASA sent a sophisticated car-size rover to the Red Planet to find out. Known as Curiosity, the rover was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on November 26, 2011. After a 350-million-mile journey that took 36 weeks, it touched down on Mars on August 5, 2012 PDT near the base of a three-mile-high mountain inside Gale Crater.

For a glimpse at planetary vehicles, we love to read about the Curiosity here at Jordan Valley Auto Body Repair, Llc., and that's why we're sharing it with NASA's curiosity: A martian car

The original mission, part of Mars Exploration Program, was to spend two years investigating the conditions on the planet and find out if Mars can support life. Funded by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the mission was extended indefinitely.

As of February 3, 2017, Curiosity has been on Mars 1,642 days, which is the equivalent of 1,598 sols. A sol is astronomy talk for a solar day on Mars.

Since the one-ton Martian car landed, it has been quite busy. NASA reported that over the last several weeks Curiosity examined slabs of rock that are thought to be mud cracks. If that is the case, it would be evidence that there might have been water on the planet—and where you find water, you find life.

The rover received its name from a nationwide contest held by NASA. After receiving more than 9,000 possibilities from students, a twelve-year-old girl from Kansas sent in the winning entry: Curiosity. It is 9.5 feet long, 8.9 feet wide and 7.2 feet tall and weighs 1,982 pounds, of which 180 pounds is the weight of the instruments alone.

Where would a rover be without a toolkit? The 10 science tools sent over with Curiosity were the first of their kind on the rocky and cold planet.

Curious what’s in that toolbox? Here are five of Curiosity’s instruments:

  • MastCam: the rover’s imaging tool captures high-resolution photos and videos of the landscape.
  • SAM: Weighing 83 pounds and located in the rover’s main body, SAM is made up of a spectrometer, a gas chromatograph and a laser spectrometer. The three will search for elements that give evidence of life.
  • ChemCam: Firing a laser at rocks from up to 30 feet away, this instrument analyzes rocks the robotic arm can’t reach.
  • RAD: Designed to help prepare for future human exploration, RAD will measure the amount of radiation on the planet.
  • REMS: This instrument measures such things as atmospheric pressure, humidity, wind speed and direction and air and ground temperature.

These various tools will help scientists determine whether human exploration will be possible someday on the Red Planet. Anyone from Springfield, MO willing to go for a ride to Mars anytime soon?

Sources: MSN, NASA and Yahoo

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