Feeds

Boffins bone up on rover skills as Curiosity speeds to Mars

100-day countdown to touchdown

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
LOHAN Kickstarter breaks NINETEEN THOUSAND of your EARTH POUNDS
That's right, OVER 9,000 beer tokens - and counting
Major cyber attack hits Norwegian oil industry
Statoil, the gas giant behind the Scandie social miracle, targeted
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.