Today, August 6th, thousands of lawnmowers around the world will play the Happy Birthday tune. This amazing concert was organized by a Swedish company that produces garden equipment. She released a special firmware update that you need to download so that your lawn mowing robot will play a tune at a certain hour and thereby join in an unusual greeting.
But who is its addressee? He is so far away that hardly will be able to appreciate this kind gesture. Yes and he is too busy as constantly collecting scientific data on the fourth planet of the solar system, to which —— more than 55 million kilometers.
Today marks the birthday of the Curiosity rover. Exactly 10 years ago, on August 6, 2012, he landed on Mars, in Gail Crater.
Brush, drill and six wheels
The name for the third generation rover was chosen from the options proposed by schoolchildren in the course of online voting. Considered Adventure (“Adventure”), Amelia (“Amelia”), Journey (“Journey”, Perception (“Perception”), Pursuit (“Aspiration”, Sunrise (“Sunrise”), Vision (“Vision”), Wonder (“Miracle”), but curiosity won — curiosity. And this is quite justified, because the main goal of his mission is to find conditions suitable for life on the Red Planet, and for many years the existence of existence aroused the greatest curiosity among astronomy lovers.
The rover also had other tasks — receive detailed information about Mars climate and its geology, and to make preparations for landing a man. The rover is an autonomous chemical laboratory, several times larger and larger than previous rovers. It has an impact drill, a brush, and a mechanism for taking and sieving samples of Martian soil and instruments for studying it. A spectrometer examines the chemical composition, another instrument conducts mineralogical analysis, another instrument measures the methane content in the planet's atmosphere (this is important for searching for traces of life).
Curiosity has two image recorders with a resolution of 1600 by 1200 pixels. He handed over the first color photograph of the Martian surface the very next day after landing. It has a pulsating neutron source, a water or ice detector on the surface of Mars, and a meteorological station.
A a monitor double onboard computer monitors the operation of all systems. In the event of one out of system, control will be transferred to the other. The computer can independently raise or lower the temperature of the device, when necessary, give commands for photography and movement, send reports on the technical condition of devices.
The Curiosity platform, on which the scientific equipment is installed, has six wheels, each of which has its own electric motor. An interesting fact: the wheels have three horizontal stripes with holes; when moving, they leave prints in the form of Morse code on the sandy soil. This code — abbreviation JPL, which means Jet Propulsion Laboratory (“Jet Propulsion Laboratory”). This is the name of the scientific organization where they were developing the rover.
Curiosity is run by a solid team of scientists and engineers, numbering more than 400 people. And "Martian Science Laboratory" — this is the name of this project in as a whole — pleases them scientific (and not only) discoveries.
The main thing that we managed to find out, — Gale Crater, where the rover operates, once had a potentially habitable system of lakes and streams. What does “potentially habitable” mean? The fact that life on Mars was possible, but evidence for this has not yet been found. However still a probability other than zero — this is a good result.
Traces of preserved organic molecules have been found in rock layers that are about 3.5 billion years old. Also, thanks to Curiosity, it was found that the amount of methane in the atmosphere of the Red Planet varies depending on the season. Scientists do not leave hope that their main discoveries are ahead, especially since an even more advanced rover is now plowing the expanses of Mars — Perseverance.
In 10 years, Curiosity has covered a distance of more than 28 kilometers (data as of 1 June 2022) and captured many Martian landscapes and unusual formations. The pictures are laid out in a special archive, which any Internet user can get acquainted with. And they study them with special predilection — wishing to make a “sensational discovery” more than around the world.
In 2014, in one such photo, they found something resembling… a human femur. Scientists explained that this is just an elongated stone that has undergone weathering. “Found” on the surface of Mars fish, crab and coral. A picture taken in early 2015 led the delight of ufologists and everyone who is at least somehow interested in the search for aliens. Among the scattering of rocks, these people saw the silhouette of a lady in a dress.
Recently, in June 2022, Curiosity discovered another strange formation on the rocky landscape of Mars. These are several winding towers that look like frozen streams of water that someone poured out of an invisible pitcher from the Martian skies.
After working on Mars for one Earth year, Curiosity congratulated himself on his birthday: on August 6, 2013, a melody sounded for the first time on the Red Planet, and it was Happy Birthday. Today, when he is 10 years old, thousands of "smart" lawn mowers around the planet Earth. And, probably, any person not indifferent to space on that day would have agreed to become a lawn mower for a while.
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