Mars Weather and Environment Conditions

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The intense period called the entry, descent, and landing (EDL) phase of the mission begins when the spacecraft reaches the top of the Martian atmosphere, traveling at about 13,200 miles per hour (5,900 meters per second). EDL ends about seven minutes later with the rover stationary on the surface. From just before jettison of the cruise stage, 10 minutes before entry, to the cutting of the sky crane bridle, the spacecraft goes through six different vehicle configurations and fires 76 pyrotechnic devices, such as releases for parts to be separated or deployed. The top of Mars’ atmosphere is a gradual transition to interplanetary space, not a sharp boundary.

The Mars Science Laboratory Entry, Descent and Landing Instrument (MEDLI) Suite begins taking measurements. The data MEDLI provides about the atmosphere and about the heat shield’s performance will aid in the design of future Mars landings. The ability to generate lift during entry increases this mission’s capability to land a heavier robot, compared to previous Mars surface missions. The spacecraft also manipulates that lift, using a technique called “guided entry,” to steer out unpredictable variations in the density of the Mars atmosphere, improving the precision of landing on target. Peak deceleration occurs about 10 seconds later. Deceleration could reach 15 g, but a peak in the range of 10 g to 11 g is more likely. After the spacecraft finishes its guided entry maneuvers, a few seconds before the parachute is deployed, the back-shell jettisons another set of tungsten weights to shift the center of mass back to the axis of symmetry.

About 24 more seconds after parachute deployment, the heat shield separates and drops away when the spacecraft is at an altitude of about 5 miles (about 8 kilometers) and traveling at a velocity of about 280 miles per hour (125 meters per second). As the heat shield separates, the Mars Descent Imager begins recording video, looking in the direction the spacecraft is flying. The imager records continuously from then through the landing. The rover, with its descent-stage “rocket backpack,” is still attached to the back shell on the parachute. The terminal descent sensor, a radar system mounted on the descent stage, begins collecting data about velocity and altitude. The back shell, with a parachute attached, separates from the descent stage and rover about 85 seconds after heat shield separation. At this point, the spacecraft is about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) above the ground and rushing toward it at about 180 miles per hour (about 80 meters per second). The rover separates its hard attachment to the descent stage, though still attached by the sky crane bridle and a data “umbilical cord,” at an altitude of about 66 feet (about 20 meters), with about 12 seconds to go before touchdown. The rover’s wheels and suspension system, which double as the landing gear, pop into place just before touchdown.

We dream about life on Mars because it is the only planet like Earth. Its days are twenty-four hours and forty minutes long; it has nearly half the gravity we have here; its temperatures are the closest of any planet to our own, and it has plenty of water as well as a thin atmosphere. In fact, the air on Mars has more carbon dioxide— the gas that plants breathe— than the Earth’s atmosphere. No wonder the idea of terraforming, or cultivating an oxygen-bearing atmosphere, comes up so frequently, both in science fiction and among real scientists. If humans ever live on another planet, it will definitely be on Mars. And if we are the dreamers, the pioneers are the robots. In the early twenty-first century, the most exciting exploration anywhere is being done by robotic spacecraft. As in the expeditions of previous generations— those of Lewis and Clark, Columbus, Magellan, Marco Polo, or Admiral Perry— the goal is to uncover secrets of faraway lands. Although there is no cost in human lives, jobs, reputations, and scientific discoveries are certainly at stake. This is risky but glorious business

The Mars Science Laboratory mission will place the rover Curiosity at the foot of a mountain of sedimentary strata, or layers, inside Gale Crater. The landing site at 4.6 degrees south latitude, 137.4 degrees east longitude will give the rover access to a field site with science targets both on the crater floor beside the mountain and in the lower layers of the mountain. Gale Crater spans 96 miles (154 kilometers) in diameter, giving it an area about the equivalent of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. The stack of layers that forms Mount Sharp offers a history book of sequential chapters recording environmental conditions when each stratum was deposited. This is the same principle of geology that makes the strata exposed in Arizona’s Grand Canyon a record of environmental history on Earth. For more than 150 years, geologists on Earth have used stacks of strata from globally dispersed locations to piece together a record of Earth history

Mars Curiosity rover has functioned as predicted for the projected mission time, some problems shown with the wheels and drill element will help to elaborate more efficient approaches to for future missions. Therefore after six years, the program has enhanced the initiatives for NASA successor rover mission called Mars 2020, which is closely based on Curiosity's design. The goal for Mars2020 will be to carry different instruments and take fewer measurements on Mars surface, however. It will also store promising samples for a possible Mars sample return mission in the coming decades.

In the more distant future, NASA will consider a human mission to Mars perhaps in the 2030s but concerns over budgetary constrain could hinder future explorations. For now, Mars curiosity has accomplished the mission it was intended and has proven that water was present in MARS it proved that there were intervals of deposits that are consistent with forming in near-shore environments.

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Mars Weather and Environment Conditions. (2021, Dec 29). Retrieved April 17, 2024 , from
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