A quick note of congratulations to NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover project team on the first anniversary of a daredevil landing on Mars on August 6, 2012.
The project has been a scientific and engineering triumph of the first order. Also, it is a prime example of the application of nuclear technology in scientific research—Curiosity is one of a long line of historic space missions powered by a Plutonium-238 radioisotope thermoelectric generator. See the September/October 2012 issue of ANS ReActions for a discussion of the Curiosity rover and its plutonium heartbeat.
As part of its birthday celebration, NASA compiled a time-lapse video of Curiosity’s first year of diggings, drillings, and travels on Mars. Now, the rover treks toward a rendezvous with Mount Sharp—possibly a site where the chemical ingredients needed for life have been best preserved.
Thanks to Space.com for that music soundtrack!
Other Curiosity-related stories on ANS Nuclear Cafe:
ANS Nuclear Matinee: Measuring Radiation on Mars
Converting heat into electricity without moving parts
Nuclear-powered Mars rover Curiosity lands safely
ANS Nuclear Matinee: Mars Rover Curiosity, A Nuclear Powered Mobile Laboratory
Plutonium in Space: Why and How?
Shannon Bragg-Sitton of INL discusses nuclear space applications