November 27th, 2011 13:53 EST
NASA Deploys Historic Voyage to Mars
Over the past couple of years NASA has been studying Mars as a future planet that could succeed Earth for our future civilizations and a home planet. Mars seems to have a lot of the same characteristics as Earth does and NASA is trying to hone in on the red planet to make sure it can sustain human life.
One of the ways NASA just made space exploration history is by launching the Mars Scientific Laboratory (MSL) which comes complete with a car-sized rover named Curiosity. The mission took place this morning at 10:02 AM Eastern Time from Cape Canaveral.
"We are very excited about sending the world`s most advanced scientific laboratory to Mars," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "MSL will tell us critical things we need to know about Mars, and while it advances science, we`ll be working on the capabilities for a human mission to the Red Planet and to other destinations where we`ve never been." (www.nasa.gov/msl, 2011).
I guess that old saying by the old television series Star Trek, To Boldly go where no man has gone before " did carry a little substance to it when it comes to NASA and where we human may go in the future when it comes to space exploration.
The trip will take about one-year to reach Mars since Mars is not right around the corner from Earth. It is about 352-million miles away. Don`t think you can just take a weekend trip to Mars and be back in time for work on Monday morning. The long distance and trip to MARS is worth the time for NASA and the cost because it is a valuable mission that will give MARS two kinds of information about Mars.
It will first pioneer a precision landing technology which will give NASA insight on landing capabilities for any future missions to Mars and it will investigate whether the region on Mars around the Gale Crater at the foot of the Mountain inside the crater offers any conditions that can support microbial life and all chemical ingredients need to sustain that life.
The mission will also give NASA insight on the types of vehicles needed to make the future trips to Mars. Peter Theisinger of NASA`s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. commented on this by saying, "The launch vehicle has given us a great injection into our trajectory, and we`re on our way to Mars, The spacecraft is in communication, thermally stable and power positive." (www.nasa.gov/msl, 2011)
I guess when you make those multi-million mile trips in space you want to make sure your vehicle is going to get the best gas mileage, in this case fuel mileage and make sure you are going to get there in one piece.
With any big project or mission it is normally managed in stages. The first stage of this historical mission will take place in about two-weeks. Theisinger commented on this by saying, "Our first trajectory correction maneuver will be in about two weeks, "We`ll do instrument checkouts in the next several weeks and continue with thorough preparations for the landing on Mars and operations on the surface." (www.nasa.gov/msl, 2011).
This mission to Mars when it comes to the rovers is different than the past rovers; Curiosity is equipped with a drill and scoop and will use the drill and scoop to gather samples of soil and powder inside rock interiors then will take those samples and sort out into analytical laboratory instruments which are inside the rover itself. Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science-instrument payloads on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. (www.nasa.gov/msl, 2011).
Curiosity will also be using state of the art tools that have never been used on any Mars mission in the past. It will be equipped with laser-firing instruments used for checking the composition of rocks and what is known as an X-Ray diffraction instrument which will be used for a definitive identification of minerals and the powdered samples it will be collecting.
The landing site will also offer Curiosity the freedom to maneuver inside various layers inside the mountain which lies inside the Gale Crater. Data from orbit in and around Mars have identified different layers of sulfate minerals and various traces of clay layers which would indicate the possibility of water.
NASA continues to explore regions of space where no one has gone before and continues to explore Mars. This historic mission will give a lot of insight on Mars and explore data never found before. It will also boost our great country to the top of space exploration.
NASA LAUNCHES MOST CAPABLE AND ROBUST ROVER TO EXPLORE MARS, (www.nasa.gov/msl), Retrieved 2011.