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Emily LakdawallaJuly 19, 2012

Got questions about Curiosity? I've got answers for you

A few days ago, JPL and NASA released their media press kit for the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars. (It's a PDF, 5.5 MB.) A press kit is a document designed to provide the media with answers to all of the basic -- and many not-so-basic -- questions they may have about what a spacecraft is, what it does, what it's made of, who made it, who runs it, why it's going to Mars, when major events can be expected to take place, what it might find, what it probably won't find, how it fits in with past and future Mars missions....hopefully you get the picture: it's packed with facts.

And while it's called a press kit, it's not just for the press; even if you're not a member of the media, you can read it, too. In fact, if you've ever asked yourself any question about the Curiosity mission -- and I hope that includes every single person reading this blog, whether you're a space fan or a scientist -- you should read the press kit. Googling for answers to specific questions is fine. You can ask me questions, too, which a lot of people do, but you'll answer your question faster by reading the press kit. What's more, you'll learn a lot of answers to questions you didn't know to ask. If you already know a lot about the mission, you'll learn how to talk about it in ways that make sense to people who don't know a lot about it.

I'm reading the press kit right now and am learning a lot of stuff I didn't know before, and being reminded of answers to frequently asked questions. For instance:

And that's just a small selection of the information available in the press kit. So: I'm assigning it to you all as homework. If you're going to be watching Curiosity land, read this first! You never know when I might make you take a pop quiz!

Curiosity touchdown!


Curiosity touchdown!
In this scene, Curiosity has touched down onto the surface. The spacecraft has detected the touchdown, and pyrotechnic cutters have severed the connections between the rover and the spacecraft's descent stage.

Read more: explaining technology, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)

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Emily Lakdawalla

Solar System Specialist for The Planetary Society
Read more articles by Emily Lakdawalla

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