58 votes

Why did the engineers at NASA's JPL put a Morse code on the wheels of Curiosity?

They designed the morse code holes on purpose, and added holes to the wheels in order to let rocks and regolith out of the wheels. The cause of the tearing in the wheels is not attributed to the holes,...
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  • 829
49 votes
Accepted

Can Curiosity pay InSight a visit?

No. Curiosity took 3 years to travel 10 km. There are no plans to visit InSight, Curiosity's mission is to survey Gale Crater and climb Mount Sharp. Curiosity can travel on the order of 100 m/day. ...
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  • 121k
48 votes

Planetary rovers - six wheels vs four?

Short answer: More wheels results in greater stability, allowing the rover to traverse more varied types of terrain. It also provides redundancy, in case one of the wheels breaks, the rover is not ...
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  • 5,571
40 votes

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

I am Jose Juan Lopez Moreno, co-I (co-investigator) of TGO-NOMAD and I feel obliged to respond to PearsonArtPhoto's answer. There is something real: TGO carries 2 independent instruments with a ...
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37 votes
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Is it possible that Curiosity Rover measured its own methane or failed doing the spectrometry?

There's a lot to unpack here, so let's look at the various discoveries of methane on Mars. The first discovery came from multiple groups in 2003-2004 using first Mars Express, followed by Earth ...
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  • 118k
35 votes

Why did the engineers at NASA's JPL put a Morse code on the wheels of Curiosity?

Good answers about the deterioration of the wheels, but no explanation on the purpose of the morse code. The three letters of the code, JPL, stand for Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena, California), ...
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34 votes

Can either Opportunity or Curiosity explore the state of Spirit?

Not a chance. From NASA, here's the locations of everything that's landed on Mars (Well, NASA missions) Curiosity is kind of close to Spirit, but keep this in mind. The equatorial circumference is ...
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  • 118k
30 votes

Can either Opportunity or Curiosity explore the state of Spirit?

Opportunity is roughly 10,000 km away from Spirit in a straight line. At its top speed of 0.05 m/s (0.18 km/h), it would take approximately 2300 days to reach Spirit -- not that Opportunity can ...
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  • 11.5k
30 votes
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Why not a "live" visual connection with Curiosity on Mars all the time?

Why not? Because we can't. We don't have full-time communication with Curiosity: Curiosity sends data to the Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey. These are overhead twice a day at 12-hour ...
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  • 121k
30 votes

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

There is Carnot's theorem for the theoretical maximum efficiency of heat engines. It is valid not only for mechanical engines like steam engines or Stirling engines but also for solid state devices ...
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  • 46.6k
24 votes
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Does Curiosity pose a radiation hazard for would be colonists?

At first glance, the RTG does not pose a risk. It is powered by Pu-238, which is primarily an alpha emitter throughout its decay chain. Alpha particles can be stopped by a sheet of paper. An ...
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  • 121k
24 votes

Is the Curiosity rover equipped with motion detectors?

Most conventional motion detectors wouldn't work well on Mars. PIR: Usually only works well with warm bodies such as humans and animals. Would probably never trigger on Mars Ultrasonic: Due to the ...
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  • 15.1k
24 votes
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Did the Perseverance and Curiosity skycranes land gently, or did they crash?

It crashed and the aftermath was photographed. https://www.space.com/mars-perseverance-rover-photo-sky-crane-crash A moment of respect for the descent stage. Within two minutes of safely delivering ...
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22 votes

Why is Curiosity not heading for Peace Vallis?

It is actually too likely to find water there. There are 3 categories of Planetary Protection missions for a mission to Mars, IVa, IVb, and IVc. Curiosity meets the IVa criteria, a mission not ...
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  • 118k
22 votes

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

Yes, they could theoretically communicate with each other over the DSN, however in practice this will not happen (as it has no current uses). The amount of functions that Curiosity can perform ...
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  • 15.1k
21 votes
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How much can the Mars rover Curiosity do autonomously, after four years of operation?

AutoNav is simply given a set of waypoints, which the software then has to, on its own, plan and execute a route. You can imagine the waypoints as lawn darts on the 3D terrain map built from the ...
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  • 57.6k
21 votes
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Did the Curiosity and Perseverance rover brains do the driving from Earth to Mars?

Yes and no. The no part first: Mars 2020 had sensors and effectors attached to the non-important parts of your diagram, many of which had various degrees of smarts. Star trackers are very ...
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  • 64.2k
21 votes

Why did the engineers at NASA's JPL put a Morse code on the wheels of Curiosity?

To add to Jezero's answer, as is covered in the link provided, the other problem is the structure of Curiosity's suspension. This front "rocker" and the middle section of the suspension (...
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  • 2,479
19 votes
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What is the mysterious "Ball of Mars"?

As called2voyage♦ pointed out in a comment, this looks like a concretion. It is not the first concretion observed on Mars, and it was most likely formed back when Mars had liquid water. More ...
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  • 11.2k
19 votes

What is the mysterious "Ball of Mars"?

Curiosity photographs thousands of rocks every week. It does that for years. You will find rocks with almost any shape you can think of. This one happens to be somewhat round in one direction. From ...
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18 votes

Could Curiosity dig itself a burrow?

No, it couldn't. The Curiosity rover is 2.9 meters by 2.7 meters by 2.2 meters. It's tiny little scoop is 7 centimeters by 4.5 centimeters by 2 centimeters (or so; I can't find a reference on the ...
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  • 64.2k
17 votes
Accepted

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

TLDR: The rover is power limited not daylight limited Lights are not sufficient to enable nighttime driving. The rover is limited by available power. The RTG produced ~114 W at the start of the ...
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  • 121k
15 votes

Curiosity and Perseverance landing - with so much dust blown everywhere, what's the point of the skycrane?

because it would prevent the rockets from contaminating the landing site. No they weren't There was some possible advantage from that, to be sure. But missions to Mars undergo serious levels of ...
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  • 1,728
14 votes

Can either Opportunity or Curiosity explore the state of Spirit?

According to Wikipedia, it's likely that Spirit has suffered permanent damage from cold as a result of insufficient power to run its heaters; any future rover which had the ability to fix that sort of ...
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14 votes
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Why is Curiosity so light compared to Opportunity?

The number is slightly misleading. NASA provides a complete breakdown on the mass. Rover 185 kg Lander 348 kg Almost 2/3rds of the mass that soft landed was in the stand and airbags, only about 1/...
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  • 118k
14 votes
Accepted

What would happen if the Curiosity rover "flipped over"?

This would end the mission, probably immediately. Curiosity comes in at 900 kg mass, so in Martian gravity its weight is ~3340 N. On a hard surface, to right it would require a torque of that weight ...
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  • 17.9k
14 votes
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Rock flipping operation

This took a fair bit of investigation! Arm Strength The Mars Science Laboratory Robotic Arm (RA) is 2.2m in length, is made of two arm sections (an upper arm and a forearm) and is controlled by 5 ...
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  • 9,854
13 votes
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Curiosity wheel damage

According to this Planetary Society blog post, it's a combination of two things: Wheel design. The wheels have a different tread pattern than Spirit and Opportunity, for better traction on soft sand....
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  • 11.5k

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