Feeds

Boffins bone up on rover skills as Curiosity speeds to Mars

100-day countdown to touchdown

High performance access to file storage

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.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
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.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.