# Curiosity Rover: An Earth Year on Mars

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On the first anniversary of its landing, halfway through its primary mission to Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover still has a long way to go.

To be exact, 4.4 miles. That is the distance to the foothills of Mount Sharp, an 18,000-foot mountain whose rocks could provide clues to a time on Mars when life could have thrived.

Because Curiosity is driving at a careful pace — up to 100 yards a day — the journey will take eight or nine months.

For now, science is secondary as Curiosity crawls across a barren, largely uninteresting landscape. “Pretty much pure driving, pedal to the metal,” said John P. Grotzinger, the mission’s project scientist.

An interactive feature offers a chronology of where Curiosity has been and what it has done so far; new images and information will be added as the rover progresses.

According to NASA, Curiosity has already traveled more than a mile, taken more than 36,700 images and fired 75,000 laser shots to analyze rocks and soil.

Written By: Kenneth Chang
continue to source article at nytimes.com

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1. How is a 4.4 mile journey going to take 8 to 9 months? If the Rover travels 100 yards a day and there are 3 feet in a yard, that means the rover can travel up to 300 feet per day.

If there are 5280 feet per mile, that means the rover can travel 1 mile (best case scenario) in 17.6 days. It needs to go 4.4 miles so that means that it can make it there in 77.4 days, or 2.5 months. How is that anywhere close to 8-9 months? Even if the rover went half the speed it would make it there in 5 months.

Way to math guys. 😛

2. In reply to #1 by Robb1324:

How is a 4.4 mile journey going to take 8 to 9 months? If the Rover travels 100 yards a day and there are 3 feet in a yard, that means the rover can travel up to 300 feet per day.

If there are 5280 feet per mile, that means the rover can travel 1 mile (best case scenario) in 17.6 days. It needs to…

If you read carefully what it said was “Because Curiosity is driving at a careful pace — up to 100 yards a day” Up to 100 yards a day, not an average speed but an upper bound.

3. It’s a good thing I’m not in charge. I’d probably be unable to move more than a foot each day. Ooh, look at that, and that, and that, and that. Back up, go back, look at that, again.

Mike

4. For now, science is secondary as Curiosity crawls across a barren, largely uninteresting landscape. “Pretty much pure driving, pedal to the metal,” said John P. Grotzinger, the mission’s project scientist.
mua chung

5. In reply to #2 by Red Dog:

In reply to #1 by Robb1324:

How is a 4.4 mile journey going to take 8 to 9 months? If the Rover travels 100 yards a day and there are 3 feet in a yard, that means the rover can travel up to 300 feet per day.

If there are 5280 feet per mile, that means the rover can travel 1 mile (best case scenari…

But even so, even if it went at 50% speed, it would only take 5 months. I think 8-9 months is way too conservative of an estimate.

6. In reply to #5 by Robb1324:

In reply to #2 by Red Dog:

In reply to #1 by Robb1324:

How is a 4.4 mile journey going to take 8 to 9 months? If the Rover travels 100 yards a day and there are 3 feet in a yard, that means the rover can travel up to 300 feet per day.

If there are 5280 feet per mile, that means the rover can trav…

You forgetting road works, toilets stops, kids getting car sick, refuelling. Have you tried to find a gas station with decent toilets on Mars?

7. In reply to #5 by Robb1324:

How is a 4.4 mile journey going to take 8 to 9 months? If the Rover travels 100 yards a day and there are 3 feet in a yard, that means the rover can travel up to 300 feet per day.

It’s called Curiosity, on a sightseeing trip, so it’s about the journey, not just the destination, with stops to poke, drill and zap for cool stuff, which it needs to e-mail home about beforehand – and we know we shouldn’t text and drive…. 😎 Mac.

8. In reply to #6 by mmurray:

You forgetting road works, toilets stops, kids getting car sick, refuelling. Have you tried to find a gas station with decent toilets on Mars?

And the odd detour in to a cave to find religious relicts

Tablets found on Mars

9. In reply to #6 by mmurray:

… .. . refuelling. Have you tried to find a gas station with decent toilets on Mars?

Unlike the earlier Photovoltaic solar power-systems of the earlier rovers, Curiosity has a Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator.

Refuelling will not an issue for Curiosity for quite some time:-

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/atlas/av028/111117mmrtg/

The Mars rover’s generator will produce power over at least 14 years. The rover’s baseline mission is expected to last approximately two years on the surface of Mars.

The Mars mission’s plutonium generator consists of a nuclear battery that converts decay heat into electricity. It contains 10.6 pounds of radioactive plutonium-238 and solid-state thermocouples that convert the plutonium’s heat energy into electricity, according to NASA.

The MMRTG is provided by the Energy Department, which is responsible for procuring, storying and supplying nuclear material to users like NASA. Hamilton Sundstrand Corp. built the device.

Nuclear generators have powered 26 U.S. space missions over the last five decades, enabling exploration of the sun, the moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. NASA’s New Horizons probe, another nuclear-powered mission, is traveling toward Pluto for an encounter in 2015.

The Curiosity rover’s MMRTG is a new generation of power source designed for use on planets with atmospheres like Mars, as well as in the vacuum of space. It also operates at power intervals of 110 watts, a smaller increment than previous RTGs.

It measures about 25 inches in diameter and 26 inches long, according to a NASA fact sheet.

10. In reply to #5 by Robb1324:

IBut even so, even if it went at 50% speed, it would only take 5 months. I think 8-9 months is way too conservative of an estimate.

I don’t see how you can draw any inferences about what the average speed should be. An upper bound is just that, it says nothing about the average speed, just that it never goes any faster, its possible that some days it makes essentially no progress.

11. In reply to #10 by Red Dog:

I don’t see how you can draw any inferences about what the average speed should be. An upper bound is just that, it says nothing about the average speed, just that it never goes any faster, its possible that some days it makes essentially no progress.

That depends on what sort of progress you are looking for. It has stayed in one place doing scientific investigative work on previous occasions.

However, its speed is not limited by dust covering photovoltaic solar panels, as was the case with the earlier rovers.

12. In reply to #7 by CdnMacAtheist:

It’s called Curiosity, on a sightseeing trip, so it’s about the journey, not just the destination

This sums it up perfectly. A key target for the mission is ultimately to get to Mount Sharp, but why not stop along the way when you have time on your side? Curiosity has already achieved many key objectives for the mission in close proximity to the landing site – finding evidence for river bed gravels, cross bedding (deposited by flowing water), clays deposited on lake beds and fracture-filling minerals consistent with water circulating through the rocks/sediments.
Travelling is not without risk – the rover could get stuck or suffer mechanical or software failure, there would be little point in rushing to the main target only to fail along the way having gathered no data. After all, the main point of the mission is data acquisition rather than a hardware endurance test.

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