How Things Work: Dropping in on Mars
NASA's Curiosity rover will try a new way of landing on another planet.
- By Tony Reichhardt
- Illustrations by Harry Whitver
- Air & Space magazine, January 2012
Powered by a nuclear battery, Curiosity will be able to analyze soil and rocks that earlier rovers could only inspect.
1. The rover’s head-like mast has color cameras for wide views and close-ups, and a ChemCam for determining chemical composition of the rocks from afar.
2. Weather sensors track wind, humidity, temperature, and pressure.
3. A mini-laboratory in the rover’s body heats soil until it vaporizes, so a laser spectrometer can identify any organic elements.
4. An arm-mounted “turret” includes a drill and a scooper that collects samples for the lab.