Curiosity Rover: Mars Rover

This investigation will investigate the Curiosity rover and how the Application and Limitation aspect of SHE influences it. The Curiosity Rover is a robot made by NASA and was sent to Mars to explore the crater, Gale, on Mars.

The rover was designed and developed by NASA and was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the United States on November 26, 2011. The purpose of the launch was to investigate whether Mars has the environmental conditions necessary to support life. Specifically, the rover searched for the possibility of water existing on Mars. This investigation will be mainly focus on the scientific knowledge, understanding and discoveries surrounding Curiosity.

Many extreme conditions of space travel must be negotiated such as atmospheric entry, landing, and exploring which involve temperature ranging 2,087o C to -91o C, in order to protect and support the Curiosity to be able to perform at a high level; Curiosity and her transport vehicles used an assortment of metal and composite materials to construct in order to solve the problem of space travel.

Electricity needed to operate the rover and its instruments is generates using a radioisotope power system. This system is used by the Mars Science Laboratory in the process of Curiosity rover. Radioisotope power systems uses the natural decay of plutonium-238 to produce electricity, this is a non-weapon-form of using radioactive isotope in power system of NASA spacecraft.

The electricity is converted from the heat produced by the natural decay of this isotope which can provide constant electric power at all time. This done by a device called radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG). RTG contain an electrical device called a thermocouple, which use the temperature difference between the radioactive isotope and cold space environment to produce electricity.

Moreover, it is able to give the mission more time to work. For example, the lifep of a full Martian year which tends to be 687 Earth days or more)
This power source gives serval advantages which it provides the rover with a greater sense of mobility over an extensive range of altitudes and latitudes. Furthermore, this would allow the scientist to exploit the abilities of the rover’s scientifically instruments. Using this power source provides several advantages. The rover receives a greater flexibility over an extensive period of time.

The ChemCam instrument has two main parts: a body unit and a mast package. The laser and the camera are focused using a telescope on the mast package, a laser for vaporizing surfaces and a remote micro-imager. The remote camera can acquire extremely detailed images after all the dust from Martian rocks are cleared by the laser.

Other parts, Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) are a helium nucleus, which consists of 2 protons and two neutrons. The spectrum is unique to the element which is the frequencies of light emitted by hydrogen are different to those emitted by sodium, helium and all other elements. This mean that coloured lines of the spectrum are different for each gas. A line emission spectrum can therefore be used to identify an element by matching the position and therefore wavelength of the emitted light in the line emission spectrum of an unknown gas to that of a known gas.

When x-rays and alpha particles interrelate with other compound atoms on the surface material, they collide with electrons out of their orbits which then produces an energy release by emitting X-rays that can be measured with detectors. The X-rays are produced when electrons are accelerated to high kinetic energies and forced to collide with a target metal. The Alpha Particle X-ray spectrometer used to measure the abundance of chemical elements in rock and soils.

Moreover, the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) used to measure the atmospheric pressure, ultraviolet radiation on the Martian surface, wind velocity and direction, air temperature and ground temperature around the rover are all measured and reported daily.

The station to monitor the rover, also has two small booms to measure the horizontal and vertical components of wind velocity to be able to illustrate the air flow near the Martian surface collected by the breezes, dust devils and storm.

A crucial question that was an issue at the time “Is how can the rover travel to space?”. According to Newton’s Third Law, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In space, there is no air resistance acting against the rocket. As the rocket exhaust exerts a force in one direction, the rocket moves in the opposite direction due to Newton’s third law. The force of the exhaust pushing against the rocket will be precisely equal and opposite to the force on the rocket moving forwards as there is no air resistance against it. The combustion of released molecules creates thrust which accelerates and propels the rocket.

Based on physics, when the Curiosity reaches Mars, the largest heat shield ever uses in space will wrap around it to protect the Curiosity from the extreme friction of entering and passing through the atmosphere. The heat shield will also slow the craft down from its interplanetary travel speed to twice the speed of sound so that a supersonic parachute can be deployed.

After that, the heat will fall away. When the craft reaches a mile in above the surface, eight rockets begin to fire, slowing the fall even further. Eight rockets from the craft started to deploy when the craft is a mile from the surface. Meanwhile, the rover moves from its stored position and its wheels extends for landing.

The rover is lowered to the surface using the hovering platform via a system of cables that must be severed by small explosives for a “soft landing”, this process is one of the most vital and hazardous phases of the landing stages. The hovering craft must fly far enough away afterward that it is crash landing does not impact the rover.

There are countless and debates on whether rover would be appropriate for humanities. Overall, three main reasons are supporting the use of Curiosity rover. One significant reason which curiosity rover was supported by many people and considered is the fact that the rover was exploring the Red Planet since August 2013.
Another advantage of curiosity rover is that they can do thing that humans cannot do. Mars rovers are robots equipped with cameras and other gear made to roll on the uncertain terrain of mars, in other words, they rover around Mars (For example microscopic, chemical testing. Camera, etc.).

Along the advantages of using robots to explore space, there are other significant application of the Curiosity Rover as well. Technology is being developed in regards to space and society. For instance, cameras. Cameras are significant to humans as well as space discovery, as they play an important role in the inspecting the space and our surrounding planets and their behaviour.

Furthermore, cameras also became a skilful tool for scientific research, for instance, there were about 17 cameras in the Curiosity rover. Nowadays, cameras and photography have become a hobby and passion for many people but most of all people love cameras for its ability to retain images of the world and people around them.

The second application and the most relatable one to the rover and society are computers. Computers are a very efficient invention that has helped human life progress and has helped the society by providing jobs and by becoming involved in many industries to help improve different aspects of daily life. Computers are essential for space travel and they allow for documentation and detailed inspection of data.

The Curiosity Rover has two main computers with 2GB worth of flash memory. Moreover, the use of computers has vastly improved the communication between the organisation of the world, making it easier to for people to contact over long distances. In addition to computer, mobiles phones are also a form of technology which has given people the opportunity to efficiently communicate with people. Besides that, mobile phones can do the same things as a television or a music system. To sum up, mobile phones and computer are very useful and important devices which ensure safety and easier and faster communication.

In conclusion, the size of a MINI Cooper, the rover is equipped with 17 cameras altogether with a robotic arm. Currently, the Curiosity rover has been the most effective whilst discovering the planet. Mars. The mission of the Curiosity is to determine whether Mars ever was, is or ever could be habitable.


  • Reference. How Do Computers Benefit Society? [Online] Available at: [ Access 10 Mar, 2019]
  • Robots. Curiosity. [Online] Available at: [ Access 10 Mar, 2019]
  • Taliana, Alysha (2013). The history of the Camera and how it has impacted to society. [Online] Available at: [ Access 11 Mar, 2019]
  • Wikipedia. Curiosity (rover). [Online] Available at: [Access 11 Mar, 2019]
  • NASA. Curiosity Rover. [Online] Available at: [Access 10 Mar, 2019]
  • Howell, Elizabeth (2018). Mars curiosity: Facts and information. [Online] Available at: [ Access 10 Mar, 2019]
  • Ivan, Couronne (2018). How to drive a robot on Mars. [Online] Available at: [ Access 12 Mar, 2019]
  • Brittany Kundert (2014). Mars rover “Curiosity”. [Online] Available at: [ Access 12 Mar, 2019]
  • Demarcus Briers (2011). Pros and cons of a manned emission to Mars. [Online] Available at: [ Access 12 Mar, 2019]
  • Physics central. Landing on Mars. [Online] Available at: [Access 14 Mar, 2019]
    Essential Textbook. Physics stage 2

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