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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Lasers, Cameras and Particle Detectors: Mars Rover’s Super High-Tech Science Gear

•, Adam Mann
 Curiosity represents a scientific and engineering leap over the previous rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, and its nuclear-powered battery will allow it to rove day and night. Over the course of its two-year initial mission, the probe will climb up a 3-mile-high mountain in the middle of Gale Crater, poking, prodding, and drilling into the soil and rocks.

Here we take a closer look at the individual instruments that will help Curiosity make the next breakthrough discoveries about the Red Planet.

From the moment the rover hits the Martian atmosphere it will start taking data. Studded in 14 locations around the probe’s heat shield are devices known as the Mars Science Laboratory Entry Descent and Landing Instrument (MEDLI). This equipment will provide information about Mars’ atmosphere and the dynamics of the rover’s descent, analyzing Curiosity’s trip to the surface and providing information helpful in designing future Mars missions.

Additionally, a special camera, the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) will be watching the view as the ground rushes up at Curiosity. By taking high-resolution color video during the probe’s landing sequence, MARDI will provide an overview of the landscape during descent and allow geologists back on Earth to determine exactly where Curiosity lands.

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