From the dawn of the mankind, no other planet in our solar system captivated the imaginations like the Red Planet. Scientists have been contemplating if Mars might be nurturing life and is even home to intelligent beings. But we have been able to see Mars so clearly only from past several decades. It all started with Mars 1M, a soviet mission, destroyed in a launch failure on October 10, 1960 and it was not the end. After Mars 1M, Mars 2M, Sputnik 22, Mars 1, Sputnik 24 and Mariner 3 consecutively failed to mark their presence. Though endeavors to explore Mars happened from early 1960s, success still appeared to be elusive. All sweat went in vain until Mariner 4 (flyby mode) performed the first successful flyby of the planet Mars followed by Mariner 6 and 7 which were another two successful missions from NASA.
If we look back in to history then we may discover that Mars 1M, Mars 2M, Sputnik 22, Mars 1, Sputnik 24, Mariner 3, Zond 2, Mars 1969A, Mars 1969B, Mariner 8, Cosmos 419, Mars 4, Mars 6, Mars 7, Phobos 1, Phobos 2, Mars Observer, Mars 96, Nozomi, Mars Climate Orbiter, Mars Polar Lander, Beagle 2 and, recently in 2011, the Phobos Grunt are nothing but just regrets. Nobody was aware of these problems that we have faced in search of life in the Planet Red. But thanks to great scientists of the world, because of their extraordinary efforts, we witnessed few legendary landings on the dusty surface of the Mars. Amidst several attempts, there were still many that were able to etch their success stories in the book of history.
Since these great accomplishments today we understand Mars as a frozen desert with towering silent volcanoes, deep canyons, polar ice caps, evidence of ancient rivers and vast oceans which indicate a warm but drenched past of the red planet. After shooting the first successful mission, Mariner 4 (flyby mode), into the history, NASA has been establishing many milestones in bridging the gap between Mars and being. And without knowledge we have become an Alien to other part of the universe. But the process of unearthing will evolve and eventually will track down the transformation that will showcase a new way of LIFE. In addition to the Man-Mars voyage, a mighty player is going to enter the league soon. Around hundred days after, Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity Rover will be landing on Martian surface.
Despite of fact that Curiosity had some computer issues, it launched successfully on 26th November 2011 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and expected to land in August 2012 near the foot of a mountain inside Gale Crater. When questioned about the technical problems, Mars Science Laboratory Deputy Project Manager Richard Cook of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif, said “Good detective work on understanding why the reset occurred has yielded a way to prevent it from occurring again and the successful resolution of this problem was the outcome of productive teamwork by engineers at the computer manufacturer and JPL”. If we talk about Curiosity then it is a robot with a pair of bug-eyes swiveling on a stalk nearly 8 feet off the ground, the 6-wheeled, 1800-lb Mars rover Curiosity doesn’t look much like a human being.
Yet, the Mini Cooper sized rover is playing the role of stunt double for NASA astronauts. “Curiosity is riding to Mars in the belly of a spacecraft, where an astronaut would be,” explains Don Hassler of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “This means the rover experiences deep-space radiation storms in the same way that a real astronaut would.” The interesting part is that Curiosity carries a Lincoln penny to calibrate its Mastcam, a high-definition imager. Conclusively in case of curiosity, the list of capabilities is pretty wide. It may be APXS- the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer instrument, RAD- the Radiation Assessment Detector instrument, CheMin- the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument or SAM- the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, Curiosity is just a radical in its class. To conclude, we wish Curiosity and her team all the best and luck in all her future endeavors and we are eagerly waiting to experience the adventurous but thrilling voyage of MAVEN, the future Mars conqueror, which is scheduled to launch by the end of 2013.
It will be irrational to question Curiosity’s consequences knowing it’s a subject of pushing the limits of engineering, technology and nature. It may be the way of space exploration but each time we try we learn for the next time and all the risk, money and man-power are worth it.