Feeds

Boffins bone up on rover skills as Curiosity speeds to Mars

100-day countdown to touchdown

Intelligent flash storage arrays

There are now fewer than a hundred days until the Mars rover Curiosity tries to touch down on the surface of the Red Planet - and boffins at the Jet Propulsion Lab are polishing up their remote driving skills.

At the moment the mission has less than 191 million kilometres (119 million miles*) to go before its scheduled landing early in the morning of 6 August. The one-ton robot, which has been travelling at 21,000 kilometres per hour (13,000MPH) to reach the dusty world, will then start the search for evidence of a wet environment in Mars' early history.

"Every day is one day closer to the most challenging part of this mission," said Pete Theisinger, project manager at JPL.

"Landing an SUV-sized vehicle next to the side of a mountain 85 million miles from home is always stimulating. Our engineering and science teams continue their preparations for that big day and the surface operations to follow."

Mission planners and engineers have just finished a week of simulated rover driving where they sent some of the same commands they will send to the real Curiosity to a test buggy at JPL.

"Our test rover has a central computer identical to Curiosity's currently on its way to Mars," said Eric Aguilar, the mission's top test engineer. "We ran all our commands through it and watched to make sure it drove, took pictures and collected samples as expected by the mission planners. It was a great test and gave us a lot of confidence."

Curiosity will be dropped very gently on Mars near the base of a mountain inside Gale Crater if all goes to plan and will be roaming around taking pictures and collecting samples for two years. ®

Bootnote

* The rover will have travelled 354 million miles over eight and a half months before eventually landing on Mars at a time when the Red Planet is 85 million miles from Earth, thanks to the two planets' orbits around the Sun.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.