NASA recently announced that the Mars rover Curiosity had collected the first sample from the interior of a rock on another planet. This in itself is a feat of engineering.
Being an unmanned, interplanetary mission, there are no opportunities to have an astronaut go out and repair the rover when there is a problem. The rover is also not controllable from a console here on earth, like a drone, since there is an appreciable communication delay. To control these long-range robots, a program must be uploaded and then activated. The amount of testing and the number of contingencies that must be accounted for is very large.
Curiosity shows us the first sample from the inside of a rock of another planet. (Source: NASA)
Now that the sample has been collected, it will be moved to a device that will sieve it and send particles to two instruments, Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin), and Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM). The sieve will allow particles up to 150 microns across. The analysis will take some time to complete, but we will be waiting with bated breath as these rocks were judged to have a potentially interesting history, being of a sedimentary type. This might indicate the presence of water, and is a core area of investigation for the mission.
The results of the analysis should be very interesting and we will keep you up to date. The results will also guide the Curiosity science team in choosing the next target rock.
Good point, Bill. I, too, am wondering where the accompanying excitement has gone. As Louis points out, these are amazing feats of engineering. Maybe we need to send modern day counterparts of John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Gus Grissom and Alan Shepard up there to generate some excitement.
Gosh this is exciting. But with all of the funding to support STEM education, I'm wondering where to find all of the excitement surrounding this ongoing mission to Mars. I was too young to make any observations during the Apollo missions. Maybe instead of complaining about Beyonce and Adele, folks like me were complaining about all of the attention our culture was showering over The Beatles and Elvis while we were flying to the moon...
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
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