• Sunday, December 8, 2019

Curiosity ready to lift off

Discussion in 'World Affairs' started by gagaga, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. gagaga

    gagaga FULL MEMBER

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    NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory is the largest, most scientifically capable spacecraft ever destined for the surface of another planet. Its Curiosity rover can travel miles rather than meters, and it’s equipped to determine whether Mars is, or ever could have been, a planetary harbor for primitive life.

    But the spacecraft also is two years late and almost a billion dollars over budget. Its scheduled launch this week comes at a time when NASA — still struggling to find its way after the retirement of America’s iconic shuttle fleet — is anxious to exhibit its technological competence and prowess.

    So failure is not an option.

    The $2.5 billion project “is an incredibly important flagship mission for this agency,” said Douglas McCuistion, head of NASA’s Mars exploration program. “It’s as important to this agency ... as (the) Hubble (Space Telescope).”

    “This is the granddaddy of them all,” added NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “This is science fiction come to life ... I call it the Super Bowl of space exploration.”

    And it all gets under way the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

    A 19-story Atlas V rocket and the Mars Science Laboratory are scheduled to blast off at 10:02 a.m. Saturday from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

    The high-stakes launch poses an extra risk to public safety.

    The Curiosity rover is equipped with a generator that converts heat from the natural decay of a non-weapons-grade plutonium into electricity. The electricity will power rover systems and keep it warm in an environment where average temperatures are minus 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

    NASA and the Department of Energy estimate there is 1-in-420 chance of a launch accident that would result in a release of radioactive plutonium. But even in that unlikely event, the average exposure to anyone on the Space Coast would be about the same as the dose from a single dental x-ray.


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  2. gagaga

    gagaga FULL MEMBER

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  3. gagaga

    gagaga FULL MEMBER

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    did you ask where is the solar panel? this thing use nuclear battery.

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    Plutonium-238

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