Curiouser and curioser

Curiosity (cu·ri·os·i·ty, noun) is defined as: 1. a desire to know or learn; 2. an object that arouses interest, as by being novel or extraordinary; and 3. from the Latin “curiosus” meaning careful, diligent, thoughtful, devoted; elaborate, complicated; meddlesome, officious, prying, interfering, curious, inquisitive; and a spy or scout, informer. Certainly, the Curiosity rover and its mission—dedicated to inquisitive thinking, exploration, investigation, and learning—exemplify all these things.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched a $2.5 billion spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on 26 November 2011. The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission: “to assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet’s ‘habitability.’”

Getting this hefty and bulky conglomerate of science equipment to Mars was no small feat.

An Atlas V 541 expendable launch vehicle–a 191-foot, two-stage rocket from United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of mil/aero giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing–was charged with launching the roughly 8500-pound MSL into space. Tucked inside the rocket, says a NASA spokesperson, was the MSL spacecraft; inside MSL and responsible for nearly one quarter of its weight was Curiosity, the largest rover ever to be launched from Earth.

Aerospace innovators have designed, developed, launched, landed, and controlled unmanned rovers before. What sets Curiosity apart from its predecessors? How is it unique?

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission and its Curiosity rover have logged a number of achievements and solidified a place in history—and this geek is lucky to bear witness.

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Posted August 29th, 2012, by

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About J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

J. VanDomelen holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and myriad certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTia in varying facets of computer software, hardware, and network design and implementation. He has worked in the electronics industry for more than 12 years in varied fields, including advanced systems design of highly technical military and aerospace computer systems, semiconductor manufacturing, open source software development, hardware design, and rapid prototyping. J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

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Commented on August 30, 2012 at 11:05 am
By An amazing, international undertaking « J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

[…] NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft, housing the unmanned Curiosity rover, set upon a monumental, 9-month, 352-million-mile journey to its final destination–Gale Crater near the base of Mount Sharp on Mars–with help from a powerful Atlas V 541 launch vehicle. In fact, this November 2011 mission marked the first launch of United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V 541 configuration. […]

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