The Mars Mariner Curiosity marks the fifth Earth years of his expedition to the Red Planet. During this time he managed to pass 17 kilometers along the Gale crater, to find organic compounds in the ground, to catch methane in the atmosphere, to find numerous evidence of the water past of Mars, and to study the water that has been preserved up to now in the surface layer.
Mars rover has 10 scientific instruments for studying geology and external conditions on the surface. 17 color and black-and-white cameras allow you to control the device and learn new details of the evolution of the planet. Inside the Mars rover, two sophisticated laboratory instruments are hidden, which gave the name to the entire Mars Science Laboratory. The gas chromatograph SAM makes it possible to determine the isotopic composition of atmospheric gases and released from the ground. The CheMin X-ray diffractometer makes it possible to perform crystallographic analyzes and to recognize the mineral composition of the rock. Two spectrometers ChemCam and APXS determine the chemical composition of the samples, and the first device, due to the laser, can do this remotely from a distance of up to 7 m.
The Curiosity study continues the work of its predecessors: Spirit rovers and Opportunity, and the Phoenix landing platform. The predecessors were able to prove that once there was water on Mars, it was liquid and there was a lot of water. For Curiosity, the work remained to conduct its isotope analysis, and try to understand where it went. The Russian DAN device aboard the rover determines the water content under the apparatus at a depth of 1 meter, and the chromatograph SAM has measured the isotopic weight. It turned out to be five times more heavy isotopes in Martian water than in terrestrial.
For geological prospecting, the rover was equipped with several instruments on the manipulator. The drilling device was required to extract rock from a depth that was minimal enough to preserve the organic compounds from the effects of cosmic radiation. According to estimates of scientists, there is enough 5 cm, so the drill was 7 cm. The scoop allows you to type loose soil from the surface. A metal brush removes samples from the covering dust.
After the mission of the 70-80s Viking NASA scientists no longer hope to find a Martian life, but the hope that it was born in the ancient more Comfortable conditions, still alive. Curiosity must detect and study complex organic compounds that might remain after complete extinction. Not the first time, but still managed to find organic – first found chlorobenzenes in the ground, then methane in the atmosphere. The question of its origin remains open, Curiosity is not able to identify biomarkers that would show the involvement of life in the formation of these organic compounds. The search for biomarkers on Mars will be carried out by the following Mars rover, the European Paster, which is to arrive within the framework of the Russian-European mission of Exomars in 2020.
During its journey, Curiosity suffered a lot from severe Martian conditions. Caught software failures, short circuits, the sensors of the wind broke down, the ultraviolet sensor clogged the dust, the quality of the picture from the color cameras fell, the macro camera cap stuck … The wheels of fine aluminum slowly but surely collapse. This year, for the first time, the skeleton of one of the most damaged wheels was cracked.
Mars rover drivers updated the software, which promises a more gentle mode of movement, but the destruction has already begun. However, for the five-year service, the damage is not fatal, and it can be assumed that the rover is able to overcome no less than a segment of the path, even if it is necessary to crawl on the rims.
Another serious malfunction was the bored rover of the rover. Now he can not pick up the soil from the depth, and he has to scrape the rock from the surface.
Looking back, we can briefly review the Curiosity tour thanks to the circular panoramas that the rover received from its cameras and which were transformed into spherical panoramas by the talented Russian Andrei Bodrov. He has processed almost all the circular panoramas of Curiosity and they are available on his page.
We'll look at some of the most iconic – the panoramas are clickable, you can use VR glasses for viewing.
The landing site of the rovers Curiosity. The first examination of yourself and the surrounding area. We first saw the slopes of Mount Sharpe in the center of the crater of Gale, and the ring crater wall, which is visible as a mountain chain covering the horizon. On the sides of the rover are four gray spots – traces of the impact of jet jets of the soft landing system Sky Crane. Thanks to him you can see that Mars is not red, and its red color comes from the red dust that covers everything around.
At the foot of Sharpe mountain, dark sand dunes stretch Bypass the rover for a long three years, on his way to the slopes of the mountain.
Already in this panorama Andrei's complex work was manifested, which used two panoramas, from a color wide-angle camera and with navigational black and white. Thanks to his work, we can in detail consider the body of the rover and only after careful consideration can we see the color areas turning into black and white. Usually the rover body rarely gets into camera lenses, because
Those who want to make sure that everything is in good order with the color reproduction of the Curiosity cameras can look at the sundial that can be seen on the hull, to the left of the radiator of the RITEG
If you look at the later pictures, you can see how the rover slowly fills with dust.
A bright spot in front of the rover – the only hope that Mars once was inhabited. Only in this place it was possible to find clay, in which a high water content was determined – up to 6%, and organic compounds were found. If you zoom in, you can see that a bright spot is a bluish rock extracted from the well. Wells are two, one shallow, trial, where operators determine the density and structure of the soil and assess the stability of the rover. In deep drilling, the drill could be bent in the well, so the robot should stand still.
In this place, scientists only trained, getting used to their car in "combat" conditions, itself The same place was lying aside from the main route, and he had to leave. The next clay on the rover's path will appear a few kilometers ahead, see if there will be an organic one there.
At this point, rover operators, with one of whom we managed to communicate, did not just conduct a circular survey with a mast camera, Selphi "with a camera on the manipulator, which made more than 60 frames to get an unusual image of the rover" from the side. " Using the high mobility of the manipulator, the operators have achieved the fact that "salfi stick" is not visible. Such photographs are still, for many, the basis for asserting that Mars is not real, but Curiosity did not fly anywhere, because someone had taken it from the outside?
In fact, the sleight of hand and no fraud.
Such a spherical panorama is also not found on the NASA website. Here Andrey's talent was again manifested. He managed to combine a circular panorama from the mast camera and "salfi" from the camera on the manipulator. It turned out an incredible picture with the effect of presence. Neyuo Mars in all panoramas of Andrew – artificial. His image is based on real pictures, but the rover does not spend "film" on the sky and concentrates on the planet.
You can see the real sky of Mars in the camera images from the manipulator when it removes from the folded state. In this case, it turns out that the horizon is "piled up," but the sky takes a lot of place.
After Glenelg, Curiosity went to a multi- On the plain at the foot of Mount Sharpe. His main scientific goals lie on the layered slopes of the mountain, but dark sand dunes prevented them from reaching them.
Mindful of the tragic fate of the Spirit rover, tightly stuck in loose ground, engineers did not take chances To direct the rover into the very midst of the sand, so they moved to the nearest place, where a suitable passage was viewed from the satellite.
To somehow diversify the passage along the plain, sometimes the rover Allowed to make a small detour and explore the hills-remnants that came across the poo and. On the panorama you can see the result of the DRT brush, which was cleaned from the dust before the start of drilling operations. To the left, the spot left by laser bombardment is visible.
Behind the rover back are layered deposits left by sandstone, which was once the bottom of a Martian reservoir. As it turned out, practically everything that passed the rover is bottom deposits in different geological periods. The Gale Crater repeatedly filled with water, turning into a circular 150 kilometer lake, only impurities in the water were different, so the rocks were deposited different. Actually, to study these changes, the rover was sent here.
Two years later, Curiosity descended from a disgusted plain and began to climb a mountain in a wide arc. The rapprochement with the mountain opened up new geological layers, which scientists rushed to study with renewed vigor. Almost half a year the rover worked in the area of Pahrump Hills, made wells, hit the laser with plenty, but hardly moved to the exit, again stopped for the next well and "salfi" in the small canyon of the Marias Pass.
This time for the shooting engineers chose a non-standard angle. If previously held the manipulator as if at the height of an adult, this time the camera was placed at a height of about half a meter. Due to what we can in detail consider the front and the bottom of the rover. On the same panorama, the shadow of the manipulator is clearly visible, which could not be concealed by cross-shooting.
The small table mountains Murray Buttes presented many picturesque landscapes. For the sake of completeness, it is recommended to watch the soundtrack to the movie "The Gold of McKenna"
This highland was the result of the weathering of sediments carried by the river from the canyon on the slope of Sharp. Before this canyon, we'll still get there in a couple of years, but for now we can only see these distant echoes of ancient floods.
The long-awaited dark sands that Four years loomed in the distance, finally approached and flooded all the panoramas. Once scientists argued how active these sands are today, when the atmosphere of Mars is very rarefied, and the sands could be cemented for a long time and turned into frozen stone waves. But no, first from the satellite it was considered that the dunes continue to move and move about one meter per year, and then Curiosity saw the movement of sand ripples.
The sand is of volcanic origin and at Certain lighting may appear black with a blue tint. Although at close inspection it seems orange, so that the Martian dispute "black and blue VS white-orange" is already billions of years old.
After the dunes Curiosity came close to one of the important goals of its path – the Hematite ridge. This extended elevation was once the bottom of a Martian river, and, under the influence of some factors, iron ore in the form of hematite was deposited on its bottom. Now it is known due to satellite observation. Mars rover will try to find hematite directly on the spot and determine the cause of its appearance. One of the hypotheses points to the possibility of biological participation, but so far there are not enough reliable arguments.
Now all Mars rovers and Mars satellites are forced to leave – between us and them is the Sun, whose powerful radio emission Blocks the possibility of communication. Therefore, while on the Earth jars are ringing on the occasion of the anniversary, Curiosity stands alone on a desert planet and works as a stationary climate station, which studies Mars with a cutting arsenal of sensors.
And finally one can enjoy Andrei Bodrov's joke – night Mars
In the reality of such panoramas the rover did not do, and at night conducted a few observations of natural satellites, Jupiter or large asteroids, and this beauty is not given to it – the cameras are not adapted to night photography. And even such a person can not even see such a picturesque sky. The atmosphere is thin, but the dust degrades the quality and brightness of the stars will not differ significantly from the terrestrial highlands, and this panorama of the sky is obtained with a long exposure on Earth.