NASA’s incredible Curiosity rover sure is being kept busy, not only is it exploring the surface of Mars but now it’s an interplanetary broadcaster. I’m referring of course to it’s broadcast of the will.i.am song – the first time that the human voice has been broadcast from another planet.
However the serious business is building up and the instruments are being prepared for a hugely significant mission on the Red Planet. The data being returned has already exceeded the total of every previous rover combined and it’s only just started it’s mission.
The rover is heading for the very base of Mount Sharp which is a 5km high peak in the middle of the Gale Crater. The crater which the rover has been exploring has endless possibilities for exploration. The rover initially examined the marks that were left by the crane which lowered Curiousity down initially. It’s a great chance to see what lies below the surface with little extra work.
It’s using a selection of advanced analysis tools which use lasers and sub-atomic particles to measure the minerals that are contained in the surface of the crater. It is hoped these will be especially important when they reach Gleneig which lies a few hundred metres to the East. It apparently is the intersection of several geological regions and so should, in theory, present a whole treasure trove of geological information.
After that it sets off for the long journey to the base of Mount Sharp which will take a significant time. There’s still chance to catch the fantastic Horizon programme about the mission to Mars, I’m not sure how long it has left so catch it soon on that link. For those who can’t access BBC Iplayer because of their location – I would like to recommend this information page which explains how anyone can watch Iplayer abroad.
The show goes behind the scenes at NASA before the lift off of the Curiosity mission. At this stage there was a whole load of trepidation about if the rover would even land in one piece. A fascinating documentary about what may be one of the most important space missions in history.
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