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Cosmoquest Astronomy Hour, Wednesday: What's up with Curiosity on Mars, with guest: me!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

15-08-2012 17:00 CDT

Topics: podcasts and videos, events and announcements, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)

I'm hosting this week's Cosmoquest Astronomy Hour on Google+. Rather than having a special guest I'll be speaking myself about what's going on with Curiosity, and will leave lots of time to answer people's questions. Join me at 1600 PDT / 2300 UTC at I'll embed the video here when we go live; or you can come back to this post after it's over to watch the replay. Feel free to add comments here with questions you'd like me to answer!

See other posts from August 2012


Or read more blog entries about: podcasts and videos, events and announcements, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)


Errol Coder: 08/14/2012 12:04 CDT

Will definitely be "seeing" you there! Looking forward to it.

gellis: 08/15/2012 06:16 CDT

Emily, since you asked for it... This EDL was extremeely interesing, to say the least. Would you mind starting with a quick review that may include some lesser known facts? Curiosity landed long as all previous landlers, albeit only marginally so. It seems like this time the EDL team has a good understanding why this happened. Apparently the guided entry stopped at a certain point while Curiosity was slightly high in its approach and a flight path correction maneuver was still going on. Can you elaborate on this? I am surprised about the chunks of Martian soil on the rover while there hardly is any dust on the deck. Could it be that before touchdown most of relatively thin dust cover at the landing site was blown away while Curiosity was still high up, and the big chunks of soil came loose and were blown on top of the rover during the very last seconds before and maybe during the fly-away maneuver? I understand that the skycrane throttled up its engines to fly away. Could that be the reason the big chunks ended up on the rover? Not surprisingly for a planetary or lunar landing he fuel margin was tight. Any idea how much fuel was left at fly-away? While watching the live stream of the landing I think I heard 1.4 kg of fuel left, but this seems awfully little. Did I mishear that one? Is Mars Express going to be used operationally or only as (emergency) backup? How long will the power source allow driving and/or surface operations? Is there a pre-planned route that curiosity will try to follow, depending on “road conditions”? If so, can you show it? What are the rough timelines for this drive? Can you point out some of the most important planned surface activities, e.g., planned road stop, use of the drill, laser etc.? Finally, will curiosity attempt to climb all the way up to the top of Aeolis Mons? As I said, you asked for questions :) Cheers, George

Ramapollo: 08/15/2012 04:01 CDT

I would love to join you live but midnight for us Brits so... Here's some questions; Is there any risk of Curiosity suffering from having to drag a seized wheel (MER rovers!) or can they ensure they freewheel? Ok so the RTG is providing the power source trickle charging the batteries, so how long can the batteries themselves last out and do they determine the overall rover life? Finally - I have read that the SAM experiment has 74 recepticles for samples ( some holding calibration material) - does this mean that once they have all been used thats it as far as the sample and analysis capabilities? Love the blogs and tweets Emily. Thanks and respect. gellis; it was 140 kg of expensive to carry fuel but we didnt want an Apollo 11 scenario did we?!

Occam: 08/15/2012 05:32 CDT

Curiosity is a great technology demonstration and a powerful field geologist. But regarding the size of this rover - why is it again "only" a field geologist? The resolution of MAHLI is too low for micropaleontology, and there are no experiments dedicated for e.g. amino acids or chirality. Only the carbon isotope ration analysis of TLS (SAM) is addressing this topic, isn´t it? Can you give some technological and/or scientific reasons?

Mike: 08/15/2012 06:07 CDT

Love your work!

Mike: 08/15/2012 06:09 CDT

Do you know when we'll finally see the top of Mt. Sharp?

Hugo: 08/15/2012 07:10 CDT

Great work Emily, thanks for all!

Jörn: 08/16/2012 10:59 CDT

Very informative and interesting! Thanks Emily and Fraser! You both explain things clearly and understandably, and are great ambassadors for space exploration. Emily is really relaxed, it's almost like sitting opposite you at your kitchen table. (Well, you maybe don't have bookshelves in your kitchen?) Is your formal title at The Planetary Society nowadays "Planetary Evangelist", Emily? ;-)

Ron: 08/16/2012 11:40 CDT

I think the title "Planetary Evangelist" is perfect. Is that now official, and who came up with it.

Zorbonian: 08/16/2012 03:36 CDT

LOL - No, no, no - let's come up with a better word than "Evangelist" -- me hives just to think about it, and reminds me of too many nuts that are out there on the airwaves.

Emily: 08/17/2012 08:36 CDT

I believe that you can defuse the negative power of certain words by co-opting them. Just ask the LGBT community about that!

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