NASA To Launch Mars Rover 'Dream Machine' This Week - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

NASA To Launch Mars Rover 'Dream Machine' This Week

MSNBC.COM - After nearly a decade of planning, several cost overruns and a two-year delay, NASA is finally set to launch its next Mars rover this week.

The car-size Curiosity rover, the centerpiece of NASA's $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, is slated to blast off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Saturday (Nov. 26) after a one-day delay due to a rocket battery issue. The launch comes two years later than the MSL team had originally planned, a slip that ultimately increased the mission's lifetime costs by 56 percent.

But with Curiosity now sitting on the pad, nestled atop its Atlas 5 rocket, MSL's past issues are receding deeper into history. Most eyes are now on the rover's future — its quest to determine if Mars is, or ever was, capable of supporting microbial life.

"This is a Mars scientist's dream machine," Ashwin Vasavada, MSL deputy project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., told reporters on Nov. 10. "This rover is not only the most technically capable rover ever sent to another planet, but it's actually the most capable scientific explorer we've ever sent out."

A beast of a rover

NASA began planning MSL's mission in 2003. Over the past eight years, scientists and engineers developed, built and tested Curiosity, a robotic behemoth that will take planetary exploration to a new level.

At 1 ton, Curiosity weighs five times more than each of its immediate Mars rover predecessors, the golf-cart-size twins Spirit and Opportunity, which landed on the Red Planet in January 2004 to search for signs of past water activity.

While Spirit and Opportunity each sported five scientific instruments, Curiosity boasts 10, as well as a drill that will allow it to access the interior of Red Planet rocks.

The huge rover will use all of this gear to gauge the past and present habitability of its Martian environs. It will look for carbon-containing compounds — the building blocks of life as we know it — and assess what the Red Planet was like long ago.

MSL is not a life-detection mission, but it will lay the foundation for future efforts that could hunt for evidence of microbial Martians, officials said.

"We bridge the gap from 'follow the water' to seeking the signs of life," said Doug McCuistion, head of NASA's Mars exploration program. Click here to read more

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Cheney teacher's Twitter thread on letting student sleep goes viral

    Cheney teacher's Twitter thread on letting student sleep goes viral

    Monday, May 21 2018 9:34 PM EDT2018-05-22 01:34:14 GMT

    CHENEY, Wash. - A Cheney High School English teacher let a student sleep in his class last week and the thread on Twitter describing the reason has gone viral.  Monte Syrie tweeted the reason he let the student, Meg, sleep in class last week and the thread caught the attention of many.  The thread reads in its entirety here: 

    >>

    CHENEY, Wash. - A Cheney High School English teacher let a student sleep in his class last week and the thread on Twitter describing the reason has gone viral.  Monte Syrie tweeted the reason he let the student, Meg, sleep in class last week and the thread caught the attention of many.  The thread reads in its entirety here: 

    >>
  • Friends remember Spokane man fatally stabbed

    Friends remember Spokane man fatally stabbed

    Tuesday, May 22 2018 2:05 AM EDT2018-05-22 06:05:55 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash.- Friends and family are devastated and heartbroken over the death of 28-year-old Corey Ward, who was stabbed and slashed by a killer. Ward did not survive and so far, Spokane police haven't made any arrests. It happened on May 17 just before midnight in the 2400 block of West Cleveland in Northwest Spokane.

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash.- Friends and family are devastated and heartbroken over the death of 28-year-old Corey Ward, who was stabbed and slashed by a killer. Ward did not survive and so far, Spokane police haven't made any arrests. It happened on May 17 just before midnight in the 2400 block of West Cleveland in Northwest Spokane.

    >>
  • Florida man climbs on playground equipment, tells kids where babies come from

    Florida man climbs on playground equipment, tells kids where babies come from

    Tuesday, May 22 2018 1:56 AM EDT2018-05-22 05:56:04 GMT

    CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. - A 30-year-old Florida man was fined $118 and ordered to stay away from a park after police say the man climbed on playground equipment and yelled at children in the area about where babies come from. Otis Dawayne Ryan was taken into custody on a charge of disorderly conduct around 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon in Clearwater Beach, according to the Tampa Bay Times. 

    >>

    CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. - A 30-year-old Florida man was fined $118 and ordered to stay away from a park after police say the man climbed on playground equipment and yelled at children in the area about where babies come from. Otis Dawayne Ryan was taken into custody on a charge of disorderly conduct around 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon in Clearwater Beach, according to the Tampa Bay Times. 

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/