-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, with its rover Curiosity, successfully blasted off from Cape Canaveral yesterday. Arrival at Mars is scheduled for August 2012. Curiosity is like previous rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, on steroids. Curiosity will help determine whether Mars has, or had, an environment capable of supporting microbial life.
Curiosity’s power will come from a thermoelectric generator containing 10.6 pounds (4.8 kilograms) of plutonium dioxide. The heat produced by the radioactive decay will provide 110 watts of electrical power and will also warm fluids that will be pumped throughout Curiosity’s systems, keeping them toasty on cold Martian nights.
In this time of shrinking revenues, the government should make a dedicated effort to preserve the funding for such projects. These projects bring prestige the U.S. from around the planet, and should not be objects of partisan politics.
The U.S. must maintain a superior position in the realm of science. Curiosity can inspire our young students to learn math and science and become part of the next project that surpasses previous missions.
This is going to be so cool.
H/T: Mars Science Laboratory.