just before 6am on Monday 6th August, waiting to find out if the
Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) “Curiosity” would make it safely onto the surface
the NHM annd Dr Matt Balme from the Open University were on hand as
our panel for the morning, to guide and educate us through the landing as it
|Dr Peter Grindrod, Dr Joe Michalski, Dr Matt Balme|
minutes of terror” video multiple times, I was familiar with the timeline of
events. At 6:17am, the landing had already happened, but the nail biting
telemetry took an extra 14 minutes to be relayed back to Earth.
Amazingly, they received a low resolution picture from the rear
haz camera within minutes of landing. Photographic evidence that a wheel was
safely on the surface and the horizon appeared almost flat, confirmed that the
rover was alive, well, and appeared to have landed upright in a safe level
the size of that landing ellipse. As we move towards bigger missions, perhaps a
sample return mission, we have to eliminate the uncertainty of landing, we need
engineers say you can’t go there, its too dangerous. Anything that’ll improve
accuracy means there will be more places that we can go.”
|Curiosity descending via parachute, imaged by
the HiRISE Camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
a presentation finally say “where Curiosity HAS landed!” and “where Curiosity
is!”, rather than hope and other sentiments to date.
is the sky crane, the way it landed. There are two main reasons why this was so
Matt said, it allows us to land in a smaller region than ever before. This will
mean scientists can access more geologically interesting areas.
bigger mass in terms of payload was delivered to the surface, which will lead
to better bigger science than ever before. This may well be the next stage of
|Gale Crater elevation map with landing ellipse|
of Mars. This is Gale Crater, an elevation map, where the whites are high and
blues are low. You can see the landing ellipse in red, 7 x 20km, which is
similar to Camden Town, down to Thames at Westminster, from the Natural History Museum to Heathrow.
Gale Crater itself is 155km across. The reason we’re there, is the mound in the
middle, 5-6km of layered rock for Curiosity to explore.
enough to safely land in this crater. We’ve known about Gale Crater for a long
time but just not been able to go there. The mound in the middle is about the same
size as the M25, but it would take MSL much longer to drive round the M25!”
|“Bridget”, Astrium’s test rover|
read since the landing:
video during landing.
signals Adam Seltzner needed to hear before they would declare landing
spot on Mars.
behind Curiosity’s tweets.