News Releases

Steve Cole
Headquarters, Washington  
202-358-0918
stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov
 
Guy Webster / D.C. Agle
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-5011
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov / agle@jpl.nasa.gov
Aug. 13, 2012
 
RELEASE : 12-279
 
 
NASA Mars Rover Team Hears From President Obama
 
 

PASADENA, Calif. -- President Barack Obama this morning told the flight control team for NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, "You made us all proud."

Obama telephoned the mission control room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., to congratulate JPL Director Charles Elachi and the Mars Science Laboratory team operating the rover, which landed on Mars a week ago.

"What you've accomplished embodies the American spirit," the president said. "Our expectation is that Curiosity is going to be telling us things we did not know before and laying the groundwork for an even more audacious undertaking in the future, and that's a human mission to Mars."

Obama said Curiosity's landing advances his goals of improving education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. "This is the kind of thing that inspires kids across the country," he said. "They're telling their moms and dads they want to be part of a Mars mission, maybe even the first person to walk on Mars."

Elachi thanked Obama for the call and added, "Hopefully we inspire some of the millions of young people who were watching the landing."

Obama noted, "You guys should be remarkably proud. Really what makes us best as a species is this curiosity we have -- this yearning to discover and know more and push the boundaries of knowledge."

The rover team has completed three of the four days of activities needed for transitioning Curiosity's two main computers to a version of software suited for the rover's work on the surface of Mars. The surface work will include driving and using tools on a robotic arm. During landing, and the first few days after landing, the spacecraft's computers used a version of flight software loaded with landing-day capabilities that no longer are needed.

"After the software transition, we go back to preparing the rover to be fully functional for surface operations," Curiosity mission manager Art Thompson said. "We are looking forward to a first drive in about a week." The first short drive will be part of a few weeks of initial checkouts and observations to assess equipment on the rover and characteristics of the landing site.

Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools are the first of their kind on Mars, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks' elemental composition from a distance. Curiosity will use a drill and scoop located at the end of its robotic arm to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into the rover's analytical laboratory instruments.

To handle this science toolkit, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit or Opportunity. The Gale Crater landing site at 4.59 degrees south, 137.44 degrees east, places the rover within driving distance of layers of the crater's interior mountain. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history.

For more about NASA's Curiosity mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/mars


and


http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl


Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at:

http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity


and


http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity

 

- end -


text-only version of this release

NASA press releases and other information are available automatically by sending a blank e-mail message to hqnews-subscribe@mediaservices.nasa.gov. To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send a blank e-mail message to hqnews-unsubscribe@mediaservices.nasa.gov.

Back to NASA Newsroom | Back to NASA Homepage