NASA's Curiosity Mars rover: 5 surprising facts - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover: 5 surprising facts

This graphic shows the locations of the cameras on NASA's Curiosity rover. (©NASA/JPL-Caltech) This graphic shows the locations of the cameras on NASA's Curiosity rover. (©NASA/JPL-Caltech)


By Andrew Couts

Provided by

NASA's car-sized Curiosity rover has successfully landed on Mars. And if all goes right, the historic mission could provide us with evidence that life once existed on the Red Planet. Unfortunately, for those of us without much patience, such revelations could take as much as two years before they are uncovered by the extraterrestrial robot. So to satisfy your Curiosity curiosity, here are five surprising facts about the Mars-going rover.

1. Lasers!

That's right, lasers. Positioned atop Curiosity's "neck and head" is the ChemCam, which contains a laser capable of vaporizing items found upon the Martian landscape -- such as rocks, solid, or, you know, actual Martians -- at a distance of up to 23 feet. The light that emerges from the vaporized substance is then analyzed to determine whether it is worth further analysis. ChemCam will help NASA "characterize" the geology of Mars, check for evidence of past habitability, assess the "biological potential" of parts of Mars, and determine whether or not the soil of Mars is toxic. [via]

2. ‘Less powerful' than an iPhone 4S

The iPhone 4S in your pocket has four times the computing power of Curiosity, which packs a mere 200MHz CPU. The iPhone 4S, by comparison, has an 800MHz processor. Further, Curiosity packs just 256MB of RAM, and 2GB of on-board storage space. The iPhone has 512MB of RAM and up to 64GB of storage. That said, Curiosity has multiple computers in case one breaks, all of which are capable of withstanding massive amounts of radiation. [via]

3. Nuclear power

Due to the unreliability of solar power, Curiosity's 1,982-pound frame is energized by an advanced nuclear power system called the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator. The on-board nuclear power plant is capable of generating electricity from plutonium-238 dioxide for up to 14 years, which should be plenty of time since Curiosity will only be on Mars for 23 months. The technology for this type of nuclear power system is not new, however; both the Viking 1 and Viking 2 Mars landers used the same system, and they launched all the way back in 1975. [via]

4. Internal laboratory

Any materials deemed worthy of further inspection will be inserted into the "CheMin," an internal laboratory housed within Curiosity. CheMin uses a fine X-ray beam, which is shined through rock samples collected from Mars. The X-ray will allow NASA geologists to determine the exact crystalline makeup of the samples. This is the first time such high-tech geologic analysis has been used on Mars, and will help NASA learn about the Red Planet's past. [via]

5. Slow mover

Despite the fact that Curiosity will spend at least two year on Mars, the rover is only expected to travel a total distance of between 3 to 12 miles from its landing site during the entire duration of its mission. That means it will have an average speed of between 0.00018 mph and 0.00073 mph. Of course, Curiosity already made the 350-million-mile trip to Mars, so we'll cut it some slack for its tortoise-like speed. [via]

In Case You Missed It:

Curiosity rover safely lands on Mars, sends first photos
Shatner, Wheaton lend Star Trek cred to NASA's videos
7 minutes of terror: Here's how the Mars rover's landing will play out
NASA's Opportunity rover gives us a panoramic view of what it's like on Mars

This article was originally posted on Digital Trends
Content provided by
INFORMATIONAL DISCLAIMER The information contained on or provided through this site is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional financial or accounting advice. Always seek the advice of your accountant or other qualified personal finance advisor for answers to any related questions you may have. Use of this site and any information contained on or provided through this site is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
  • Headlines from Lucas, Wood, Ottawa, Fulton & Monroe CountiesNewsMore>>

  • Grill used to heat home sparks east Toledo deadly fire

    Grill used to heat home sparks east Toledo deadly fire

    Monday, April 23 2018 4:25 PM EDT2018-04-23 20:25:53 GMT
    (Source: WTOL)(Source: WTOL)
    (Source: WTOL)(Source: WTOL)
    A deadly fire in east Toledo is under investigation. It happened on East Broadway near Oakdale Elementary School, early Saturday morning.  Barb Robinson knew the man who died. "He was a good man," said Robinson about Gordon Guhl. She stopped by the home Monday afternoon, after hearing about the fire. Robinson said she's known Guhl for decades. She said unfortunately, he lost his way. "His girlfriend passed away and he was just on his o...More >>
    A deadly fire in east Toledo is under investigation. It happened on East Broadway near Oakdale Elementary School, early Saturday morning.  Barb Robinson knew the man who died. "He was a good man," said Robinson about Gordon Guhl. She stopped by the home Monday afternoon, after hearing about the fire. Robinson said she's known Guhl for decades. She said unfortunately, he lost his way. "His girlfriend passed away and he was just on his o...More >>
  • Lourdes University gets recognized for growth

    Lourdes University gets recognized for growth

    Monday, April 23 2018 3:48 PM EDT2018-04-23 19:48:28 GMT
    (Source: WTOL)(Source: WTOL)

    Lourdes University immensely within the last decade and it is not going unnoticed. The university's President Dr. Mary Ann Gawelek addressed the school's growth at the Rotary Club Monday afternoon. Dr. Gawelek has been president for less than two years but has achieved a lot in her time at the school. Lourdes has achieved its 10-year accreditation from the Higher Learning commission. On the athletic side of things, Lourdes has made national and international new...

    More >>

    Lourdes University immensely within the last decade and it is not going unnoticed. The university's President Dr. Mary Ann Gawelek addressed the school's growth at the Rotary Club Monday afternoon. Dr. Gawelek has been president for less than two years but has achieved a lot in her time at the school. Lourdes has achieved its 10-year accreditation from the Higher Learning commission. On the athletic side of things, Lourdes has made national and international new...

    More >>
  • Atkinson School in Fremont placed on lock down Monday

    Atkinson School in Fremont placed on lock down Monday

    Monday, April 23 2018 2:02 PM EDT2018-04-23 18:02:38 GMT
    (Source: WTOL)(Source: WTOL)

    Police say the school was placed on lock down around 1 p.m. after receiving calls of gun shots heard within the area.

    More >>

    Police say the school was placed on lock down around 1 p.m. after receiving calls of gun shots heard within the area.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly