NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission is preparing to set down a large, mobile laboratory — the rover Curiosity — using precision landing technology that makes many of Mars’ most intriguing regions viable destinations for the first time. During the 23 months after landing, Curiosity will analyze dozens of samples drilled from rocks or scooped from the ground as it explores with greater range than any previous Mars rover.
The rover’s electrical power will be supplied by a U.S. Department of Energy radioisotope thermoelectric power generatorCuriosity will carry the most advanced payload of scien- tific gear ever used on Mars’ surface, a payload more than 10 times as massive as those of earlier Mars rovers. Its assignment: Investigate whether conditions have been favorable for microbial life and for preserving clues in the rocks about possible past life.
Look inside the clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., to watch the next Mars rover being built (http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl).
The rover’s electrical power will be supplied by a U.S. Department of Energy radioisotope thermoelectric power generator. The multi- mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator produces electricity from the heat of plutonium-238’s radioactive decay. This long-lived power supply gives the mission an operating lifespan on Mars’ surface of a full Mars year (687 Earth days) or more. At launch, the generator will provide about 110 watts of electrical power to operate the rover’s instruments, robotic arm, wheels, computers and radio. Warm fluids heated by the generator’s excess heat are plumbed throughout the rover to keep electronics and other systems at acceptable operating temperatures.
For more details, please refer to the MSL fact sheet attached.