Questions tagged [curiosity]

Questions regarding the Curiosity rover launched by NASA for the purpose of Mars exploration.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
56
votes
3answers
17k views

Curiosity: Why did they “reinvent the wheel” instead of using pressure tires?

Curiosity rover's wheels seem a bit tired and show signs of wear and tear, as reported for example in this Discovery News article from May 22, 2013. This damage only increased since then and wheels ...
34
votes
3answers
16k views

About how long will Curiosity last on its nuclear power?

Curiosity, we know, has no little nuclear reactor, it has a RTG. Great! But how long will it last? For how many years will our little 1-ton friend be roaming around another planet?
33
votes
2answers
7k views

Is it possible that Curiosity Rover measured its own methane or failed doing the spectrometry?

NASA published past June high methane concentrations were measured at Mars. This week, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover found a surprising result: the largest amount of methane ever measured during the ...
33
votes
2answers
3k views

Why would NASA include a speaker on Curiosity?

Curiosity celebrated it's first birthday by playing, on Mars, Happy Birthday. How was this accomplished, and why would this capability even be included on Mars?
30
votes
1answer
5k views

Who took the Curiosity rover's self-portrait photo from the surface of Mars?

Curiosity is missing an arm, can you help us find it? The self-portrait photograph of the Curiosity rover from the Gale Crater is probably one of the most well known ones of this particular rover of ...
28
votes
4answers
7k views

Can either Opportunity or Curiosity explore the state of Spirit?

If you have a rough map of Mars a picture would help, but how far away are the three big rovers on Mars from each other? Is there any possibility of "roadside assistance" on Mars to "unstick" and ...
28
votes
2answers
5k views

Planetary rovers - six wheels vs four?

Just wondering, why are unmanned rovers almost always using six wheels (adding more weight) as opposed to four wheels? Is it for added traction, redundancy, balance, or a combination of these factors?
26
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the coin on the Curiosity rover?

The image above was taken from the Curiosity rover (I hope). There appears to be a coin in the image. Is that really a coin or some kind of button? Is it really present on the rover? If it is ...
22
votes
1answer
2k views

Why do the Mars rovers move so cautiously?

All the Mars rovers tend to move very slowly. For example, Curiosity moves at an average speed of 30 metres per hour and a maximum speed of 90 metres per hour. Why is this so? Is it because of safety ...
21
votes
3answers
6k views

Can Curiosity pay InSight a visit?

InSight landed “just” 600 kilometers from Curiosity’s landing site. Can Curiosity make its way there for a rendezvous? Are there any plans for this?
21
votes
1answer
1k views

What problems led to the use of the Sky Crane system used by Curiosity?

We all know about the fancy 'sky crane' system used on NASA's Curiosity rover. The rockets slow the descent to 1 ½ mph and power a sideways parry to avoid the faster falling chute. As Sky Crane ...
20
votes
1answer
294 views

Rock flipping operation

After the recent announcement of complex organics being found on Mars within the curiosity rover's meager 5cm drill depth, I had an idea about artificially increasing it: Is curiosity rover's arm ...
19
votes
1answer
1k views

Why is Curiosity not heading for Peace Vallis?

For over 5 years Curiosity has been successfully searching for many signs that water was once present at Gale crater. Its geology is notable for containing both clays and sulfate minerals that may ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

How much can the Mars rover Curiosity do autonomously, after four years of operation?

I was under the impression (when asking this question) that over the past four years that experience by ground operators and programmers had lead to a configuration where the Mars rover Curiosity ...
18
votes
1answer
4k views

What software language was used to program the martian rovers Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity?

What software language was used to program the martian rovers Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity? Also, how many engineers were involved in writing the software for the rovers?
18
votes
1answer
454 views

How will Curiosity manage its power when its nuclear power starts to run low?

As we've already determined, Curiosity should last about 14 years on its nuclear power. What happens near that timeframe? Will NASA start to manage the rover's use of power by shutting down unused ...
18
votes
1answer
524 views

Why did the Earth based observations of methane on Mars go wrong?

ScienceNews states that: Scientists had previously identified methane on Mars using Earth-based telescopes and spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet. In 2003, researchers detected a ...
17
votes
3answers
5k views

Why exactly does Curiosity's RTG make more electricity on cold days?

There is a fascinating factoid in this answer to MMRTG- thermal and electrical output: The electric power of the thermocouples depends on cooling influenced by the environment. On a cold day on Mars ...
16
votes
3answers
5k views

What is the mysterious “Ball of Mars”?

A recent picture of Curiosity rover depicts a surprisingly accurate sphere on the surface of Mars. What is it, and how is it possible that it is so perfecly spherical? Photo by NASA Mars Science ...
16
votes
3answers
3k views

Why are Curiosity's wheels aluminum rather than titanium?

I was just reading this article on how Curiosity's aluminum wheels are getting pretty dinged up. Usually titanium alloy is considered an upgrade from aluminum alloys in most applications, from ...
16
votes
1answer
2k views

What are the black and white circular patterns on the Curiosity rover?

On the Mars Curiosity rover, there are black and white circular patterns or marks spaced around the rover, as seen here marked in lime green:     What are these? If I had to guess, ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

Is the Curiosity rover equipped with motion detectors?

On Earth, wild life cameras are sometimes equipped with motion detectors to record rare species automatically. Could they not be applied in the case of Mars too ? Is Curiosity not equipped with ...
15
votes
2answers
3k views

Why does Curiosity use an RTG rather than solar (as Spirit and Opportunity do) for power?

Why did Curiosity choose to go with nuclear power? While solar panels have issues with Martian dust, this was a known factor before the 2004 Spirit and Opportunity mission. Why then did the 2004 ...
15
votes
2answers
3k views

How does the Curiosity rover survive dust storms on Mars?

According to the answers to this question, a dust storm on Mars can last for many days. Dust is a serious problem for mechanical joints if they use lubrication, because it may stick to the lubricant ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

If Curiosity had lights, could it drive or work in the evening?

If the Mars rover Curiosity had been equipped with lights, would it be able to drive or do other work in the evening? This could be some combination of LED headlights, wheel-lights, and/or a spotlight ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

Does the Curiosity rover really have a chance of driving to the top of Mt. Sharp?

This great answer suggests the limiting high altitude to which the Curiosity rover on Mars could drive would be the top of Mt. Sharp (Aeolis Mons) - in the center of Gale crater. I'm wondering, is ...
13
votes
2answers
496 views

Has Curiosity started driving backwards yet?

I'm curious if curiosity has started to drive backwards, at least occasionally, as part of an effort to reduce the rate of damage to the wheels. This has come up after writing this answer to the ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Could Curiosity dig itself a burrow?

Technically speaking, given enough mission time and operator attention... Could Curiosity dig itself a burrow? How long would that take? What would be the technique for that? Has it already seen a ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

Does Curiosity pose a radiation hazard for would be colonists?

I understand Curiosity is powered by plutonium decay. I was wondering if that kind of battery leaks. If humans ever go to Mars, and they want to meet with Curiosity, would they need to take extra ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

Does NASA have any plans for future Mars rovers after Curiosity?

Curiosity should last a very long time - up to around 14 years. My question is whether NASA has any plans for a Mars rovers after Curiosity. If so, are any specifics known?
12
votes
1answer
248 views

Can the rovers on Mars see the comet flyby?

Within a few days Comet ISON is going to make a close flyby of Mars. Will the rovers on Mars have a chance to take a look at the comet as it approaches Mars?
11
votes
1answer
2k views

Will Curiosity and the Mars 2020 rover be able to communicate with each other via a Mars orbiter?

Curiosity's UHF antenna on sol 2439 Could Curiosity and the Mars 2020 rover communicate with each other via the MRO orbiter ? And would it have advantages ? (Like: " I just saw a meteorite, and it'...
11
votes
1answer
357 views

Who decides where Curiosity goes?

I've been wondering for a while who gets to decide where Curiosity goes. I'm not wondering so much about who gets to actually give it the commands (that seems fairly easy to find), but who decides its ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Curiosity wheel damage

The surface of Curiosity's wheels have picked up quite a lot of damage with significant holes beyond the "JPL" holes that were designed in. By contrast the surface of Opportunity wheels have held up ...
10
votes
2answers
506 views

How much elevation has Mars Curiosity climbed so far from the bottom of Gale crater?

Recently, I came across information that Curiosity is currently at -4220 m of altitude. I have three questions: Since there is no sea level on Mars, what is the level of reference for altitude ...
10
votes
1answer
360 views

What caused Curiosity's electrical trouble?

According to this NASA announcement, there seems to have been some kind of trouble with Curiosity's electrical system: The decision to resume science activities resulted from the success of work to ...
10
votes
2answers
355 views

What likely is the chemical composition of the thin piece of material on the surface of Mars on the image below?

Note: The MAHLI images below were acquired when both the two groups of white light LEDs and the ultraviolet LEDs were off. When looking for the damage on the wheels of Curiosity on the raw images i ...
10
votes
1answer
300 views

Methane on Mars - Can we locate the source?

I know that Methane has been detected on Mars, however there seems to be a lack of specific information about the location and concentration of the Methane. Would it be possible to pinpoint the source ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Why not a “live” visual connection with Curiosity on Mars all the time?

Note: Got the idea for this question by @uhoh's question: "Has anything close to video ("live" or otherwise) been shot in space from beyond the Moon ? To have the "feeling" of a "live" connection ...
8
votes
1answer
4k views

Why is Curiosity so light compared to Opportunity?

Look at that: ...and now tell me how comes Opportunity weighs 530kg and Curiosity 900kg. It looks, like by volume, Curiosity is good 4x larger, if not more. Plus it contains heavyweight RTGs, its ...
8
votes
2answers
751 views

Why was Curiosity rover's landing site an ellipse?

According to this article, the landing site of the Curiosity rover was elliptical. Why an ellipse? Would all planetary landers have elliptical landing sites?
8
votes
1answer
116 views

During the MSL (Curiosity) Mars atmosphere entry, when was the last time the Reaction Control System used?

I understand that the Mars Scientific Laboratory used its Reaction Control System during its entry into the planet's atmosphere. At what altitude was the RCS last used? "Seven Minutes of Terror" ...
8
votes
1answer
200 views

How did the Curiosity rover on Mars manage to crack open a large area after drilling a hole?

The answer to this question has a link with this image, an animated GIF showing before and after views of a drill site on Mars. How did drilling at the site manage to disturb such a large area and ...
8
votes
2answers
4k views

Cost Breakdown for Curiosity Development

Is there a breakdown of the 2.5 Billion USD cost for Curiosity? I am particularly interested in the cost of the software development of the rover.
7
votes
1answer
463 views

Gravel on Curiosity Rover?

I was looking at a visually impressive Panoramic 360 video derived from photographs taken by Curiosity Rover. I noticed something curious, what looks like small pieces of gravel scattered across the ...
7
votes
1answer
748 views

Curiosity: Rockets kick up more dust than a sandstorm?

I was reading the NASA page about Curiosity's crazy landing scheme, and I ran across this sentence: With a payload this size, the rockets could kick up enough dust to compromise the rover and its ...
7
votes
0answers
78 views

Why are Perseverance's wheels flatter?

As visible in the image above (and as most of you would have noticed!) the wheels on the upcoming NASA/JPL rover Perseverance seems to be largely different from Curiosity's wheels. A notable ...
6
votes
3answers
777 views

Is it possible for Curiosity to broadcast live HD television from Mars to Earth?

Current Mars rovers collect large amounts of data and image sequences on Mars and store them in memory, and usually they then transfer the data to a spacecraft in Mars orbit for rebroadcast to Earth ...
6
votes
1answer
243 views

How did Curiosity's SAM “sing” to itself?

According to the Wikipedia page for the song "Happy Birthday To You", the Mars rover Curiosity sang to itself on its birthday in 2013, using its SAM as a musical instrument. The page for the SAM ...
6
votes
2answers
471 views

Why is Curiosity remaining on the Vera Rubin Ridge for so long?

Have the MSL mission team members become overwhelmed by the iron-rich rocks on the ridge ? Image from: https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/mission/mars-rover-curiosity-mission-updates/?mu=sol-2018-rock-...