10 Different Science Instruments of Mars Rover

NASA have to launch its next Mars rover this week, a 1-ton robotic beast that will take planetary exploration to the next level. The car size Curiosity rover is the centerpiece of NASA’s $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, slated to blast off on November 26 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Curiosity’s main goal is to assess whether the Red Planet is, or ever was, capable of supporting microbial life. The rover will employ 10 different science instruments to help it answer this question once it touches down on the Red Planet in August 2012. These instruments are Mast Camera (MastCam), which will capture high-resolution color pictures and video of the Martian landscape, which scientists will study and lay people will gawk at, Mars Hand

Lens Imager (MAHLI), which will take color pictures of features as tiny as 12.5 microns, Mars Descent Imager (MARDI), which will record video of the rover’s descent to the Martian surface, Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM), which is the heart of Curiosity, at 83 pounds (38 kilograms), it makes up about half of the rover’s science payload, Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin), which will identify different types of minerals on Mars and quantify their abundance, which will help scientists better understand past environmental conditions on the Red Planet, Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam), which will fire a laser at Martian rocks from up to 30 feet (9 meters) away and analyze the composition of the vaporized bits, Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS), which will measure the abundances of various chemical elements in Martian rocks and dirt, Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN), which will help the rover search for ice and water-logged minerals beneath the Martian surface, Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD), which will measure and identify high-energy radiation of all types on the Red Planet, from fast-moving protons to gamma rays, Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), which will measure atmospheric pressure, humidity, wind speed and direction, air temperature, ground temperature and ultraviolet radiation, MSL Entry, Descent and Landing Instrumentation (MEDLI), which isn’t one of Curiosity’s 10 instruments, will measure the temperatures and pressures the heat shield experiences as the MSL spacecraft streaks through the Martian sky.