Curiosity Landed on Mars
Spatial exploration fascinates a lot of people because it pushes the boundary of human knowledge. Space remains mostly unknown, and Mars is so far away and seems unreachable. Scientists have sent devices to Mars before, but Curiosity is the most ambitious technical and scientific project thus far.
On August 5, 3.2 million people watched Curiosity land on Mars via live Internet streaming.
Everyone stared at the NASA headquarters while Curiosity landed on the Red Planet. NASA scientists and the audience held their breath until the robot finally touched the ground.
Despite the high risks and complexity of this project, it was a huge success. What can we learn about this team success?
This mission is a huge step for science and knowledge. Curiosity will explore a part of the Red Planet for 98 weeks, which corresponds to one Martian year.
Goals – The main goals for Curiosity are to explore the climate and geology, and to look for traces of water, life, and habitability.
Technology – Since 1960, various devices were launched to Mars, but Curiosity utilizes the most modern scientific equipment to achieve its goals.
Size – Curiosity is the biggest rover; its size is comparable to a small car. Because of that, the landing was even more challenging.
That’s why NASA developed a new landing system: the sky crane, a device that was supposed to drop off the rover very smoothly.
No Easy Task
Spatial exploration requires a team of highly trained people with different scientific and technical expertise, working together.
There are multiple, complex steps that have to be taken in order to achieve such a project, from the design of the launcher and the rover, their assembly, the launch, the space travel, and eventually the very risky landing. The exuberant NASA team showed us how difficult this whole process was.
From an educational perspective, what knowledge is required for space exploration? Quite a lot!
We can think of engineering skills to create the rocket and the robot, chemistry to power the rocket, physics and mathematics to study its trajectory into space, computer science to deal with artificial intelligence of the robot, the communications between the robot and NASA… It is very interesting for you and your students to learn about the different processes involved.
Click the following YouTube link for more videos about Mars Science Laboratory on the NASA Television channel: http://www.youtube.com/course?list=EC00C1D0FA06115964&feature=plcp