NASA Preparing To Launch Most Advanced Mars Rover
NASA’s newest mobile robotic technology will be included on a rover that is preparing to launch for Mars. The laboratory included on the rover will help scientists learn more about an area of Mars that may contain proof of water or unusual mineral deposits. The rover, known as Curiosity, is the size of a small car. It is already loaded on an Atlas V rocket and will be sent into space on November 25th at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This is the most sophisticated rover ever sent to examine a planet. Bad weather or other issues may push back the launch, but the team is prepared to do it at any time until the 18th of December.
If all goes to plan, the rover will land on Mars by August 2021. It is aiming for the Gale Crater area and will be taking samples there for two years. The landing spot is at the base of a mountain that is 3 miles up on one of the crater’s walls. Data taken from the soil will help scientists determine if the planet ever supported the development of microbes or bacteria. Evidence of favorable conditions for this development may prove that the Red Planet had an interesting past.
Due to the heights and depths within the Gale Crater, the rover will be able to take a multitude of samples from many years of the planet’s history. The base of the mountain shows signs of alluvial fans, which are known to be caused by water depositing sediments as it runs down hill. Clay and sulfates found there are also linked to water. The rover is much larger and heavier than previous exploration robots due to the new scientific instruments and added equipment. A 7 foot tall mast helps the rover take long distance shots or it can use its 7 foot arm to collect data from the ground.