10 years ago on August 5, 2012, a jetpack landed NASA's Curiosity rover on the Red Planet and This SUV-sized probe began searching for signs of ancient microbial life on Mars on August 6. Since then, Curiosity has driven nearly 29 kilometers while exploring Gale Crater. ) has climbed up to the height of 625 meters of the range of "Sharp Mons".

This rover has also analyzed 41 rock and soil samples using its scientific instruments to gain new information about the Earth's rocky counterpart. learn.

And, of course, you should not neglect the attractive pictures and selfies that the Mars rover sends to the earth and show unique and amazing views of Mars.

  • The Curiosity rover posted a new selfie next to a rock

And now a team of engineers is being forced to come up with new ways to minimize wear and tear and preserve Mars rover exploration route. The Curiosity mission was recently extended for another three years, allowing it to continue its life among NASA's fleet of critical astrobiology missions. It was a busy decade. Curiosity has studied the Red Planet's sky and captured images of its glowing clouds and moving moons. The rover's radiometer sensor has also helped scientists measure the amount of high-energy radiation affecting future astronauts on the surface of Mars and develop ways to keep them safe.

Poster of the 10th year of Curiosity rover activity on Mars
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

But most importantly, Curiosity has determined that liquid water, as well as the chemical building blocks and nutrients needed to sustain life, have existed in Gale Crater for at least tens of millions of years. This crater once contained a lake that has become smaller and smaller. Thus, each higher layer on Mount Sharp acts as a recorded sign of a more recent era of the Martian environment.

  • NASA's climbing robot climbing Mt. Merco was hunted by Mars orbiter

Now this brave Mars rover is passing through a valley that marks the transition to a new area; A region that is believed to have formed when water dried up, leaving behind salty minerals called sulfates.

Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said: "We We see evidence of dramatic changes in the ancient climate of Mars. The question now is whether the habitable conditions that Curiosity has found so far have persisted amid these changes. Did they disappear and never come back, or did they come and go over millions of years?

Curiosity has made significant progress atop Mt. In 2015, the rover team captured a postcard image of the Paraitepuy Pass hills in the distance. One spot in that image identifies a curiosity-sized boulder called Ilha Novo Destino, which the rover reached last month on its way to the sulfate zone about seven years later. /p>

Overview of Mars' parapet transit from a distance
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Curiosity team now plans to spend the next few years exploring the sulfate-rich region. They have identified targets in the area, including the Gediz Vallis, which may have formed during a flood late in Mt. Sharp's history, as well as large cement fractures that indicate the effects of groundwater at the top of the mountain. p>

How the rover keeps moving

But what is Curiosity's secret to maintaining an active lifestyle at the age of 10? Perhaps the best answer to this question is a team of hundreds of dedicated engineers who support the rover both in person at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and remotely.

They catalog every wheel track, every line of code. They test the computer before sending it into space, drilling into endless rock samples at JPL's Mars Simulation Facility to ensure that Curiosity can handle the same process well.

Andy Mishkin "Once you land on Mars, everything you do is based on the fact that there's no one there to fix it 150 million kilometers from Earth," said Curiosity's project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It all comes down to smart use of what's already on the rover."

For example, the robotic drilling process. Curiosity has been redefined several times since landing. At one point, the drill was inactive for more than a year because engineers designed it to be used more like a hand drill. It moves or stays in place, it's out of order. Although the arm has been operating as normal since engineers engaged a set of backup components, the mission team learned to drill slowly to preserve the health of the new brakes.

Overview of the Avanaurus excavation site in Gale Crater of Mars
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ MSSS

Also, to minimize damage to the wheels, engineers are careful about the knife-like hard spots they recently observed on Curiosity's path, and have developed a speed control algorithm to help with that.

The team has taken a similar approach to managing the rover's gradual decline in power. Instead of solar panels, Curiosity relies on long-life nuclear batteries to power itself. As the plutonium ingots in the battery decay, they generate heat that the rover converts into electricity. Now, due to the gradual decay of the ingots, the rover cannot operate as much as it did in its first year in a working day.

According to Mishkin, the team continues to prioritize how much energy the rover consumes in a day, and has noticed which activities can be done in parallel to optimize the available energy. He added: "Curiosity will do more things at once if conditions are safe."

Thus, with careful planning and engineering tricks, the mission team fully expects that Curiosity's capable rover, like its fresh-faced counterpart, will The Perseverance rover will continue to explore the Red Planet for many years.

Cover photo: A graphic design of the Curiosity rover
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Source: NASA



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