Curiosity rover lands on Mars.This is a giant step for mankind indeed. But what was a small step then is now 6 Aluminium wheels.
One of the posters in a school exhibition in 2009 displayed a stacked row of houses like a pile of matchboxes and vehicles overriding each other, each violently exhausting the deadly gases, suffocating the babies and graying the leaves. The title read, “Don’t panic. Pack your bags to Mars!” It has been 3 years since then, and now the title seems relevant than ever before. Kudos to the predictive brains !
Before we get consumed with the idea of buying an acre or two and designing our future plots, it becomes necessary to know what Miss Curiosity has been sniffing out from,well, our future lands!
Curiosity, conceived in NASA’s womb, is a car-size- mobile laboratory. If this in it self isn’t startling enough, it has 4 eyeballs acting as navigation cameras, also robotic arms which can test the chemicals and sense the moisture. What gives it a gothic feel is a position on its forehead from which it can emit beams of laser light, so as to test the composition. Apart from all these features, what makes it even more appealing is the replacement of the clichéd dust laden solar panels with a nuclear generator that converts the heat generated from plutonium to electrical power, and gives curiosity its heartbeat.
Much to the applause, tears and excitement of earthy beings, Curiosity sashayed her way into the Martian atmosphere and gave an elegant landing at the Gale crater, after a 104 million mile journey on August 5 . As she is busy settling down in her new place, which is going to be her home for the coming 98 weeks, scientists back in NASA are busy revising their 10 year work, now ready to be implemented.
The tasks assigned for curiosity are simple. She will have to travel around 12 miles, stamping and crushing the soil samples as she walks and of course analyze them. While analyzing, she must be mainly eyeing for the materials which interact with water. She needs to heat the samples and check for organic compounds, also shoot X rays and laser beams at nearby rocks to check the composition. While all this is being done, she needs to continuously sniff the Martian atmosphere for methane. Oh, and did I miss out the photography sessions?
Though the idea of sending a fellow rover to accompany Curiosity is tempting, the budget constraints imposed by President Obama on Mars missions has paralysed the idea. The budget has been slashed by more than $200 million , which is around 40%. With the manned space programs of NASA transitioning into private enterprise, Curiosity is indeed a compelling venture.
While there would be a moment of sulk, if no traces of carbon or life forms are found, there would sure be no instances of regret. The presence of Curiosity on the land of red planet would give enough scope to find a lot about the history of own planet, if not Mars.