GIANT Mars Rover Set For Saturday Launch - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

GIANT Mars Rover Set For Saturday Launch

KHQ.COM - NASA's biggest and most advanced Mars rover is scheduled for launch Saturday from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Curiosity is packed with 10 science experiments to determine whether Mars has ever been suitable for life and to find clues about past life forms that may have been preserved in rocks. NASA says Curiosity won't answer the age-old questions about life on Mars, but it will provide important information that will guide future missions.

The launch was originally scheduled for Friday, but the mission team will take an extra day to remove and replace a flight termination system battery, NASA said.

Curiosity is expected to spend about two years roaming Mars, hunting things researchers say are essential for life to grow: liquid water, key chemicals used by living organisms and an energy source.

The rover will blast off Saturday atop an Atlas V rocket and is scheduled to land in August 2012 in the Gale Crater. The first opportunity for launch is 10:02 a.m. EST; the window lasts an hour and 43 minutes.

If the launch is postponed, NASA has until December 18 to get the spacecraft off the ground.

Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as the older Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Its science instruments weigh 15 times as much as its predecessors' science payloads.

The rover has a mast that can extend to 7 feet (2.1 meters) to hoist a high-definition imaging system. It also will hold a laser-equipped camera that can zap rocks to study the sparks emitted for information about their composition.

A 7-foot-long robot arm will hold instruments for soil analysis. Unlike earlier rovers, Curiosity can gather rocks and soil to process inside its lab. The rover also has tools to look for water beneath the surface, to monitor the weather and to measure natural radiation.

Curiosity is designed to roll over obstacles up to 25 inches (about 65 centimeters) high and to travel about 660 feet (200 meters) per day. Its energy source will be a radioisotope power generator.

Landing will be tricky because of the rover's size. As it descends, the spacecraft will make S-curve maneuvers like those used by shuttle astronauts. Three minutes before touchdown, a parachute and retrorockets will slow the spacecraft. Then, seconds before touchdown, an upper stage will act like a sky crane, lowering the upright rover on a tether to the surface.

When Curiosity arrives at Mars, three satellites already in orbit will be listening: NASA's Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the European Space Agency's Mars Express. The spacecraft will be positioned to receive transmissions about Curiosity's status and relay information to Earth.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Woman at Staples: Not shoplifting, just pregnant with twins

    Woman at Staples: Not shoplifting, just pregnant with twins

    Monday, August 13 2018 1:12 PM EDT2018-08-13 17:12:24 GMT

    PINEVILLE, N.C. - A pregnant woman shopping at Staples says she was confronted about what she was concealing beneath her shirt: "Twins," she said. Sherell Bates tells WSOC-TV she was at the register paying for back-to-school supplies Friday when a police officer had her step aside and explain what was under her shirt. 

    >>

    PINEVILLE, N.C. - A pregnant woman shopping at Staples says she was confronted about what she was concealing beneath her shirt: "Twins," she said. Sherell Bates tells WSOC-TV she was at the register paying for back-to-school supplies Friday when a police officer had her step aside and explain what was under her shirt. 

    >>
  • Alaska's North Slope hit by high magnitude earthquakes

    Alaska's North Slope hit by high magnitude earthquakes

    Sunday, August 12 2018 7:32 PM EDT2018-08-12 23:32:25 GMT

    KAKTOVIK, Alaska (AP) - The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit at 1:15 p.m. Sunday near the city of Kaktovik on Alaska's North Slope. The earthquake came several hours after the North Slope was struck by the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the region, according to the state's seismologist.  

    >>

    KAKTOVIK, Alaska (AP) - The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit at 1:15 p.m. Sunday near the city of Kaktovik on Alaska's North Slope. The earthquake came several hours after the North Slope was struck by the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the region, according to the state's seismologist.  

    >>
  • Boyds fire near Kettle Falls reaches around 3,000 acres

    Boyds fire near Kettle Falls reaches around 3,000 acres

    Sunday, August 12 2018 1:18 PM EDT2018-08-12 17:18:23 GMT

    FERRY COUNTY, Wash. - Overnight, the Boyds Fire burning in Ferry County near Kettle Falls reached approximately 3,000 acres. Crews say by estimation the fire size tripled overnight to around 3,000 acres. Two residences and numerous outbuildings have been reported lost. In Sunday morning's update from the Incident Management Team, the fire has been listed as minimally contained at two percent.

    >>

    FERRY COUNTY, Wash. - Overnight, the Boyds Fire burning in Ferry County near Kettle Falls reached approximately 3,000 acres. Crews say by estimation the fire size tripled overnight to around 3,000 acres. Two residences and numerous outbuildings have been reported lost. In Sunday morning's update from the Incident Management Team, the fire has been listed as minimally contained at two percent.

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/