Eleven Candles – NASA Mars Exploration

This image was taken by Front Hazard Avoidance Camera (Front Hazcam) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3910.

This picture was taken by Entrance Hazard Avoidance Digital camera (Entrance Hazcam) onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3910. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Obtain picture ›

Earth planning date: Monday, August seventh, 2023

I actually don’t keep in mind a birthday cake with eleven candles in entrance of me. I am certain it existed, and there is most likely even a (bodily) photograph of it someplace at my childhood residence, however there have been many laps across the solar since then to erode my reminiscences from that point (and, naturally, a big change in hair albedo if I’m fully sincere). This previous weekend, Curiosity formally accomplished its 11th (Earth) 12 months on Mars. As Alex captured within the weblog from the weekend plan, our rover was busy conducting thrilling science actions because the milestone got here and went. Simply one other arduous day at work for the veteran rover. It looks like solely yesterday we celebrated 10 (Earth) years on the floor, and never lengthy earlier than that when intense nervousness was fractured by phrases from engineer Allen Chen I am going to always remember: “Landing confirmed. We’re protected on Mars.” I had the privilege of being within the Flight Tasks Middle at JPL as a wide-eyed graduate pupil with the remainder of the 2012 science workforce on touchdown night time. I couldn’t think about the journey we’d enterprise on collectively over these 11 years which have adopted.

Our rover is a bit more drained than 11 years in the past. That is to be anticipated although, 3911 diurnal cycles on Mars is grueling. That is 3911 frigid Mars nights, 3911 cool (at greatest) Mars days, and practically 100,000 hours of being bombarded by radiation from area after touchdown on Mars. Add as nicely some 30+ hard-earned km pushed over often-grueling terrain. There have been analyses of samples from 38 drill holes and 6 scoops. Almost 3,000 commanded APXS analyses on strong samples. Roughly 64,000 MAHLI and practically 220,000 commanded Mastcam photos. Within the neighbourhood of 1 million ChemCam LIBS pictures and roughly 6,000 ChemCam RMIs in addition to numerous REMS actions and DAN pulses. CheMin XRD analyses of 43 samples totaling round 1,500 hours of measurement time and the same workload for SAM. Extra photos from the Hazard and Navigation cameras than I may even think about counting and a full 11-year photo voltaic cycle monitored by RAD. All of those information, and extra to come back, relayed by way of Curiosity’s pals overhead again to Earth for evaluation and interpretation by the science workforce and group.

Curiosity was gifted a surprising workspace to kick off its twelfth (Earth) 12 months on Mars after a profitable drive within the earlier plan. Our rover took benefit of this workspace with an action-packed two-sol plan, particularly so given the varied tactical constraints. To begin the primary plan of its twelfth 12 months on Mars, Curiosity brushed the rock goal “Ouranoupoli” and bought an APXS evaluation in addition to MAHLI and Mastcam photos. Mastcam additionally acquired photos of close by ripples in addition to of the targets “Sicyon,” “Orinoco,” and “Arachova,” the latter of which was additionally investigated by ChemCam. Curiosity additionally executed a one-hour drive, offering a brand new workspace for Wednesday’s planning day

Day-after-day on Mars is an effective day. Some could also be tougher than others, however that is life on Mars. One fixed, by way of every little thing, is the soul and willpower of this rover and its supporting forged, to soldier on, up the flanks of a mountain, inside a 3-4 billion 12 months outdated crater, on a glowing pink dot low close to the western horizon on this late summer time’s night sky. Glad birthday Curiosity, you’re by no means really alone.


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