Spacecraft technicians and engineers have installed the wheels and suspension system onto NASA's next Mars rover, a key step in assembly and testing of the flight system for the mission to launch in 2011.
The rover Curiosity, centerpiece of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, has six wheels and a rocker-bogie suspension system like its smaller predecessors: Spirit, Opportunity and Sojourner. Each wheel has its own drive motor and the corner wheels also have independent steering motors. Unlike earlier Mars rovers, Curiosity will also use its mobility system as landing gear when the mission's rocket-powered descent stage lowers the rover directly onto the Martian surface on a tether in August 2012.
Center Contact: Guy Webster, 818-354-6278 HQ Contact: Dwayne Brown, 202-358-1726 www.nasa.gov/msl
Michael Meyer NASA Mars Chief Scientist
Meyer (:10): We’ve narrowed down the landing sites to four…and this is basically based primarily on science and the fact they look safe. › Play Now
Meyer (:41): One of the things that I think is pretty exciting about the landing sites we do have and even the ones we look at and kind of falling off the list for one reason or another, is that this first time where we have this wonderful spectroscopy at a high enough resolution that we can match it with the terrain. So we can point to layers and say “that’s where we want the rover to go” and make it’s measurements. All four of them show evidence of having been associated with water. So, if today we had to pick one almost randomly, it would be a great site to go to and the amount of information that we have before we get to the site is fantastic. › Play Now