Space

Curiosity Rover Celebrates 10 years of Mars Exploration

By Aazam

Orbiters and landers from a half-dozen space agencies scout it's wafer-thin atmosphere and stark surface to reveal a surprisingly active past

Dust-streaked and running on punctured wheels, it continues to explore a desiccated landscape of wind-chiseled mesas, isolated buttes, and swirling sands for relics of a warmer, wetter, perhaps habitable Mars

While life-forms would struggle in this radiation-drenched environment, the infant Mars 3.5 billion years ago was unlike today's grizzled, middle-aged globe

The $1.63-billion price tag rose to above $2 billion. Spare parts were removed, testing changed, and software reworked to save money

Engineers replaced a rock-grinding tool with a motorized wire-bristle brush and disabled a zoom feature from the rover's Mastcam camera

The same difficulties that delayed the launch and caused NASA problems in 2009 are now a factor in Curiosity's achievement

To quantify chemical components, the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) irradiates materials and maps X-ray emissions

The local humidity, temperature, pressure, and wind are measured by the Rover Environment Monitoring Station on the mast

As part of the Send Your Name to Mars campaign, engineers engraved the names of 1.2 million individuals on two microchips and attached them to the rover

Currently, Gale Crater is an arid, barren region south of the martian equator, measuring 96 miles in width and encompassing an area comparable to Connecticut and Rhode Island put together

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