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Book Excerpt: The Design and Engineering of Curiosity: How the radioisotope power system works

Emily Lakdawalla • May 14, 2018

Readers, colleagues, friends: it's finally happened. My first book is finally out in the world. Here's an excerpt that explains the design and operation of Curiosity's MMRTG, (it also applies to the future Mars 2020 rover power supply).

Curiosity Update, sols 1972-2026: Completing the Vera Rubin Ridge Walkabout

Emily Lakdawalla • April 17, 2018

The Curiosity team has completed its initial survey of the top of Vera Rubin Ridge, and is ready to make another attempt at drilling after the rock at Lake Orcadie proved to be too hard.

Space grade electronics: How NASA’s Juno survives near Jupiter

Jatan Mehta • April 17, 2018

Take a look at how electronics of spacecraft are built to survive the harshness of space environments.

Automating Science on Mars

Raymond Francis and Tara Estlin • March 13, 2018

Since 2016, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has had the ability to choose its own science targets using an onboard intelligent targeting system called AEGIS.

Curiosity update, sols 1927-1971: Ready to resume drilling

Emily Lakdawalla • February 21, 2018

After a hiatus of nearly 500 sols, Curiosity is ready to attempt drilling into a Mars rock again.

Ten times the solar system reminded us sample collection is hard

Emily Lakdawalla • February 19, 2018

Some of the biggest discoveries we make in planetary science rely on the seemingly simple act of picking up and analyzing pieces of other worlds. When things go awry, scientists and engineers can sometimes squeeze amazing science out of a tough situation.

HiRISE image coverage of the Curiosity field site on Mars, Version 4.0

Emily Lakdawalla • January 15, 2018

The latest and greatest update of Emily's list of all the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE images that contain Curiosity hardware, tracks, or traverses.

Curiosity update, sols 1814-1926: Vera Rubin Ridge Walkabout

Emily Lakdawalla • January 06, 2018

Curiosity is climbing across the top of Vera Rubin Ridge, spying varicolored rocks. It's getting closer to being ready to drill again, and has performed a wet chemistry experiment for the first time.

Curiosity update, sols 1726-1813: Surveying Vera Rubin Ridge from below

Emily Lakdawalla • September 13, 2017

Curiosity had a productive three months driving along the front of Vera Rubin Ridge, gathering photos and data with its arm instruments, finally driving up on to the ridge on sol 1809.

Curiosity's balky drill: The problem and solutions

Emily Lakdawalla • September 06, 2017

Since December 1, 2016, Curiosity has been unable to drill into rocks because of a serious problem with one of the drill's motors. Emily Lakdawalla thoroughly explains the issues and the path forward for Curiosity.

Book Update: The Design and Engineering of Curiosity

Emily Lakdawalla • September 01, 2017

Emily Lakdawalla's first book is now available for pre-order.

Five Earth Years on Mars

Casey Dreier • August 05, 2017

Five (Earth) years ago today, the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity landed in a dramatic fashion on the surface of the Red Planet. We look back at a mission that advanced humanity's understanding of Mars and provided a priceless return on a modest investment.

Curiosity update, sols 1675-1725: Traverse to Vera Rubin Ridge

Emily Lakdawalla • June 13, 2017

Curiosity has had a busy eight weeks, driving south from the Bagnold Dunes toward Vera Rubin Ridge. The path has steepened and the rover is now rapidly climbing upward with every meter traveled. It's been a productive time for arm instruments, but the drill is still not working.

Geology on Mars: Using stratigraphic columns to tell the story of Gale Crater

Heidi Stauffer • May 15, 2017

Stratigraphic columns are a basic tool in geology, used on both Earth and Mars to tell the story of a location. But what are they really?

Curiosity update, sols 1600-1674: The second Bagnold Dunes campaign

Emily Lakdawalla • April 25, 2017

The four-stop dune science campaign offered the engineers some time to continue troubleshooting the drill without any pressure to use it for science. They scooped sand at a site called Ogunquit Beach but couldn't complete the planned sample activity because of new developments in the drill inquiry. The rover has now headed onward toward Vera Rubin Ridge.

MAVEN dodges Phobos, with (maybe) a little help from Curiosity

Emily Lakdawalla • March 06, 2017

This week MAVEN had to execute a short rocket burn in order to prevent a future collision with Phobos. Curiosity (and other rovers) may have played a role in those trajectory predictions.

Curiosity update, sols 1548-1599: Serious drill brake problem as Curiosity drives through Murray red beds

Emily Lakdawalla • February 03, 2017

Since my last update, the Curiosity mission has developed a better understanding of the problem that prevented them from drilling at Precipice, but its intermittent nature has slowed the development of a workable solution that will allow them to use the drill again. In the meantime, the rover has driven onward, making good use of its other instruments.

Curiosity update, sols 1489-1547: Drilling at Sebina, driving up through Murray, drill problems at Precipice

Emily Lakdawalla • December 12, 2016

It's been a drive-heavy two months for Curiosity. Since my last update, the rover has drilled at a site named Sebina, then traveled about 500 meters to the south across increasingly chunky-looking Murray rocks to a new attempted drill site at Precipice. They were planning to attempt a new drilling technique at Precipice, but encountered a new problem with the drill instead.

Curiosity Update, sols 1428-1488: Through the Murray Buttes, drilling at Quela, and beyond

Emily Lakdawalla • October 13, 2016

In the two months since my last Curiosity update, the rover has traversed the scenic Murray Buttes, drilled at Quela, and driven another 300 meters southward.

How big is that butte?

Emily Lakdawalla • August 23, 2016

Whenever I share images from Curiosity, among the most common questions I’m asked is “what is the scale of this image?” With help from imaging enthusiast Seán Doran, I can answer that question for some of the Murray buttes.

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