Feeds

Nuclear Mars tank thrusts hard into perfect position

NASA shows Russians how Phobos-Grunt should have worked

Top three mobile application threats

Unlike the broken-down Russian Mars probe Phobos-Grunt, the NASA Mars Science Laboratory is on track for touching down on the Red Planet after smoothly pulling off some well-choreographed thrusts.

In its biggest manoeuvre yet, the floating nuclear science tank - which is carrying shiny new rover Curiosity - fired up to eight rockets for three hours yesterday, effecting a slight change in direction and speed.

This resulted in a change in velocity of 12.3 MPH, keeping the craft on course for a soft touchdown on the Martian Gale crater on 5 August.

Artist's concept of MSL during cruise phase

NASA described the carefully timed thrusting required to orient the probe:

The manoeuvre used the eight thruster engines on the cruise stage of the spacecraft, grouped into two sets of four. It began with a thrust lasting about 19 minutes, using just one thruster in each set and affecting velocity along the direction of the axis of rotation. Then, to affect velocity perpendicular to that line, each set of thrusters was fired for 5 seconds when the rotation put that set facing the proper direction. These 5-second bursts were repeated more than 200 times during a period of about two hours for a total of about 40 minutes.

The mission's second trajectory correction manoeuvre, expected to be about one-sixth the magnitude of this first one, is scheduled for 26 March. There will be time for up to four additional adjustments before the probe touches down.

The probe's chosen landing spot is unusual because of an enormous mound in its centre whose sedimentary layers could reveal some of Mars's history. On landing, the space lab will release the jeep rover Curiosity that will roam the surface of the crater collecting samples for analysis. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.