By Chet Yarbrough
Mars Rover Curiosity: An Inside Account from Curiosity’s Chief Engineer
Written by: Rob Manning, William L. Simon
Narrated by: Bronson Pinchot
This antenna-tailed super dog, and a Rover named Opportunity, are in the news this month. After analysis of elemental particles by Curiosity, organic molecules are discovered. An astro-biologist at Utrecht University in the Netherlands suggests life may have existed or originated on Mars.
Curiosity is a mechanical, one-eyed, six wheeled, antenna-tailed super dog. It can stiff the air, drill rocks, analyze elemental particles, roam a countryside at a snail’s pace (300 feet per hour), and talk to humans. Its language is in 1s and 0s. It speaks to Earth from Mars across 49 million miles of space with a message that continues to amaze and encourage human exploration of the universe.
Curiosity Rover Animation:
Sadly, it was reported on February 13, 2019–that an earlier Mars Rover died. It was called Opportunity. Curiosity, according to a “Life Science” article, cannot repair Opportunity because of time and distance.
A slightly earlier Mars Rover called Sprit, a twin of Opportunity, died on March 20, 2010.
However, like the movie musical “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”, we should not mourn their loss. Both of these earlier rovers outlast their expected lives.
Robert Manning, in collaboration with William Simon (a ghost writer), reflects on the technological feat of creating and delivering a robotic laboratory to the fourth rock from the sun.
Curiosity launched on November 26, 2011 to arrive on Mars August 6, 2012. It landed on the Aeolis Palus plain, a crater that may be an ancient lake bed. Robert Manning, in collaboration with William Simon (a ghost writer), reflects on the technological feat of creating and delivering a robotic laboratory to the fourth rock from the sun. Manning heads a team of NASA scientists and engineers to design the latest land rover, called Curiosity, to explore Mars.
The first 12 months of Curiosity’s First Year on Mars:
In June 2018, Curiosity continues to explore Mars and deliver information on the history of earth’s mysterious neighbor.
What Curiosity is Discovering:
Curiosity is meant to search for artifacts of life on Mars while testing the potential for colonization of another planet. To date, no definitive answers are given but Manning’s story suggests most of the building blocks of life were at one time present on Mars. Now, it appears Manning’s story is tentatively confirmed.
Life on Mars?:
The primary atmospheric conditions of Mars are made of carbon dioxide and some water vapor as opposed to nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and other elements of earth. The average temperature on Mars is 81 degrees Fahrenheit versus 57 degrees on Earth (a misleading metric because of the huge extremes on Mars). Mars gravity is only .375 that of Earth which has significant ramification for sustainability of human life on the planet.
No indisputable historical evidence of life on Mars has been discovered but the existence of fluctuating amounts of methane in the atmosphere may mean Mars is geologically active and holds the potential for microscopic life. Methane contains hydrogen and carbon but, with little discovered oxygen, there is limited chance of any life form representative of earth; at least, that is larger than a microbe.
“Mars Rover Curiosity” is a tribute to NASA and its organizational skill in achieving a land mark experiment in human exploration. In listening to Manning’s story, one feels they are on the edge of a continent in the 15th century, planning to sail to an unexplored place to find answers about what there is beyond imagination. NASA’s contribution to science and a possible future for humanity seems inferred by Manning’s story; particularly in light of current scientific evidence for Earth’s global warming.
Curiosity’s exploration (though only a mechanical creation of NASA) reminds one of Marco Polo, Vasco da Gama, Christopher Columbus, Magellan, Cortes, and Neil Armstrong in their discovery of new continents.