The Union Recorder


August 14, 2012

Curiosity’s Curious Landing



All the people working on the MSL mission operate on Mars time. A Martian day is 24 hours and 40 minutes long. This means that slowly but surely your day will go out of synch with Earth time and you will at some point completely reverse your circadian rhythm. Because of this shift a day on Mars is also not called a “day” but rather a “sol”. The ease with which Mr. Sengstacken talked about “yestersol” was quite amusing to witness.

Curiosity is also not dependent on solar panels, as it carries its own RTG (radioisotope thermoelectric generators) which produce electricity for the rover’s operations. But that’s also not a limitless supply. The RTGs produce about 105 watts of electricity, 5 more than expected because it’s actually a little bit warmer on Mars than the forecasts predicted. The rover needs at least 130 watts when “awake” and more for additional science operations. So it charges its own batteries overnight and at the crack of dawn it’s ready to go again, using the remaining excess heat from the fuel pellets to keep warm during the dark hours.

Sengstacken expects the first movement of the rover around sol 9 or 10, and since we have those downward-pointing cameras he was excited about filming what he called a “sidewalk video” of the ground as the rover is moving.

By now all the cameras on the rover have been fired up and tested, the high-gain antenna has been calibrated and knows where to find Earth in the sky, and all comm systems are working perfectly. It’s easier and far more efficient for Curiosity to relay her data to an orbiting spacecraft which will then beam it to Earth, but in case none of those are available it can make direct contact via the dinner-plate sized antenna.

Text Only
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years