19 Awesome and Fascinating Facts About Mars Rover Curiosity

Fact about Mars Rover Curiosity
Curiosity is the latest rover by NASA, treading and exploring Martial terrain. Its main mission is to find if life ever existed there. To satisfy your curiosity, this Buzzle post lists some fascinating facts about this rover.
Did You Know?
It takes about 14 minutes for radio signals to travel from Mars to Earth. So, for 14 minutes NASA scientists did not know if the rover had landed safely on the Martian surface.
What lies in the cosmos has intrigued humans from time unknown. It is this urge to discover what lies beyond our skies that has enabled man to take leaps in the advancement of space technology. Scientists have always wondered if life exists, or existed, outside our planet.

This quest has led man to explore the Red Planet - Mars. Mars Rover Curiosity is the most ambitious and promising project undertaken by NASA on Mars. This $2.5 billion rover took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on 26th November 2011, and landed on Mars on 5th August 2012 to begin its journey of Mars exploration.

Over its months of exploration on the red planet, Curiosity has already sent a lot of information to scientists on Earth. This information will go a long way to help scientists understand the atmosphere, topography, archaeological history, and the possibility of knowing if life ever existed on Mars. However, concrete results will take years of study and research.
Interesting Facts About Mars Rover Curiosity
Rover on mars
Mars Rover Curiosity
To satiate your curiosity for now, let's know some facts about this amazing rover.
► Curiosity is NASA's most recent rover on Mars, after Pathfinder, Spirit, and Opportunity. Of all the previous rovers, Opportunity is still actively exploring Mars. Curiosity is NASA's seventh landing on Mars; few of the previous attempts were disastrous.
► After traveling for over eight months, and covering a distance of about 352 million miles, Curiosity had a dramatic entry into the atmosphere of Mars. The seven minutes of landing are often dubbed as the 'seven minutes of terror' by NASA officials.
► Curiosity weighs about 1982 pounds, more than five times its predecessor, and hence, NASA scientists had to find a new way to land it, as the previous methods wouldn't work.
► It's landing sequence was complicated. After it entered the atmosphere of Mars at a speed of 13,200 miles per hour, a supersonic parachute, that could withstand 65,000 pounds, was deployed to slow down its speed. For the final part of the landing, the parachute was severed and rockets were used. Curiosity touched the surface of Mars at a speed of 1.5 miles per hour.
► Curiosity is about the size of a mini-SUV with six wheels. It is a moving space laboratory and is loaded with all the necessary gadgets and equipment needed to explore and study the Martian atmosphere.
► It has a total of 17 cameras and 10 advanced science equipment. Curiosity is 10 feet in length, 6 feet in width, 7 feet in height, and its arms have a reach of about 6.2 feet. The cameras can take pictures as minute as 12.5 microns.
► Curiosity is nuclear-powered. It derives its power from its 4.8 kg supply of plutonium oxide, which gives off heat while decaying. The heat is converted into electricity by the rover using a Multi Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG). The plutonium oxide can supposedly power the rover for about 14 years.
► Curiosity is fitted with lasers on its head and can shoot laser rays and vaporize anything within 23 feet. This is done to find out if Mars terrain is toxic.
► Although Curiosity was supposed to explore Mars for 1 Martian year (687 earth days), it has recently been extended indefinitely, i.e., as long as scientifically viable.
► The rover made its landing in the Gale Crater on Mars. NASA scientists discussed over 60 possible locations before zeroing on a particular location. Gale Crater is thought to provide the rover with a wide range of important sites to explore.
► The rover can roll over obstacles 25 inches high, and can travel up to 200 meters a day. It has the maximum speed of only 1.5 inches per second on flat, hard ground.
► Curiosity got its name from a sixth grade student, Clara Ma, who entered the naming contest of the Mars rover. Her essay beat out 9000 other applicants.
► The rover has a 2-inch drill attached to its arm which helps it drill holes on Martian rocks and take samples for study.
► Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) is an instrument attached at the tail of the rover that bombards neutrons at the ground on Mars. This is done to find out presence of ice or water underneath the surface. If the neutrons return slowly, it signifies the presence of hydrogen molecules, since hydrogen slows down the neutrons.
Interesting Findings of Mars Rover Curiosity
► Analysis of the first drilled sample on Mars shows the presence of sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and carbon. All these elements are considered the building blocks of life.
► Curiosity has a toaster-size Radiation Alert Device (RAD) that measures the amount of radiation on the Martian surface. This information is vital for any future human exploration of Mars.
► Analysis of the seabeds on Mars reveal that around three billion years ago, relatively freshwater flowed on the surface of Mars.
► The red dust found on the Martian surface is found to be similar to the lava ejected from Hawaii's volcanoes. So, the Martian dust could have volcanic origins.
These facts about the Mars Rover Curiosity certainly gives you the idea that NASA is keeping its bar very high. It is said that Curiosity will be succeeded by another unmanned Mars rover that NASA plans to launch in 2020.