enter image description here

What's this part here used for? The thing that looks like if you poured dirt into it, that it'd sift through it. Not the antenna, the white thing in center that looks as if it could spin.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking about the roughly hexagonal object? The thing with fins is the RTG. $\endgroup$ Jun 25, 2019 at 20:03
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    $\begingroup$ @organicmarble Is that really the RTG? I thought that for a second because of Kerbal, but thought better of it. If you want to put that as an answer you can, I feel dumb asking now. "Object with fins on the back of curiosity" didn't come up with much. $\endgroup$ Jun 25, 2019 at 20:04
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    $\begingroup$ It is proving to be surprisingly hard to find a decent-sized drawing with the parts labeled from a good source. $\endgroup$ Jun 25, 2019 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ by the way here's why it is white $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 26, 2019 at 3:10
  • $\begingroup$ Ill find the hires picture this is from too. It spans my three montiors and curiosity looks out at me from the middle haha. $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2019 at 2:53

1 Answer 1


The finned cylinder is the RTG, the Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator. (Shown as the Multi-Mission RTG in the drawing below - MMRTG).

enter image description here

See also Why are planetary probe RTGs tilted at a jaunty angle?

Drawing source - JPL Mars Science Lab Landing Press Kit, page 39.

Other acronymology:

  • CheMin - Chemistry and Mineralogy
  • DAN - Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons
  • MARDI - MARs Descent Imager
  • RAD - Radiation Assessment Detector
  • REMS - Rover Environmental Monitoring Station
  • RLGA - Rover Low Gain Antenna
  • RUHF - Rover Ultra High Frequency
  • SAM - Sample Analysis at Mars
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    $\begingroup$ That's a good diagram though :). Thanks for finding it. $\endgroup$ Jun 25, 2019 at 20:18
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    $\begingroup$ Also the one about the jaunty (I'd've used the word janky) angle was a GREAT read with some amazing resources. Thanks again for another well-versed answer. $\endgroup$ Jun 25, 2019 at 22:49

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