Mars Science Laboratory Mission Objectives
The first objective of the Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL) is to ascertain the availability of environments that can accommodate life entities in the past and at present. MSL will achieve this using of scientific instruments to collect and examine the samples of Mars’ atmosphere, rocks and soil. Analysts will then conduct physical, biological and chemical tests.
Mars Science Laboratory will compare and contrast Planets earth and Mars to determine conditions that support life and conditions that do not.
Mars Science Laboratory will also investigate changes in planet Mars that have occurred over time by examining the geological structure of minerals, the presence of water elements in the rocks at and near the planet’s surface.
Mar Science Laboratory will seek to characterize the spectrum of its external radiation including secondary neutrons, galactic radiation, proton radiation and solar proton events.
Mars Science Laboratory will determine the water cycle, carbon cycle and other atmospheric changes in planet Mars to ascertain processes indicating habitability of Planet Mars in the past and in the present.
Mars Science Laboratory will also seek to discover the chemical building units of life in Mars (“Mars Science Laboratory Launch press kit,” 2011).
Mars Science Laboratory is part of the Mars Exploration Program (MEP) conducted and funded by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The program intends to establish Mars’ current and past environment, functions and availability of water in the internal structure of planet Mars. It also intends to investigate the habitability of Mars by collecting and examining geological evidence of similar environmental conditions from ongoing and past missions (Amos, 2008).
Mars Exploration Program seeks to improve the mobility of its rover while exploring Mars collecting data. Improved mobility of the rovers will enable them to move with ease collecting samples from a variety of sites. Mars Exploration Program also seeks to lengthen the time spent by the rovers exploring. Improved longevity will enable the rovers to collect a higher number of samples for analysis. Hence analysts will make concrete conclusions from the mission. For instance, rover Curiosity will spend 98 weeks exploring Mars. In line with the objectives of Mars Exploration Program, Mars Science Laboratory will identify more landing sites for future missions. These are sites with potential for future discovery of presence of life forms.
Mars Science Laboratory scientists increased the physical dimensions of the Curiosity rover. This will ensure Curiosity rover carries 10 instruments for collecting sufficient samples for analysis. On the other hand, Mars Exploration Rovers (Opportunity and spirit) mission carried only 5 instruments. The machines incorporated into Curiosity rover are modern and highly advanced. For instance, its computer has a speed of 200 megahertz which is an improvement from 20 megahertz of the Mars Exploration Rovers mission. Hence, Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity rover will process and analyze data from the samples in real time and record the data for interpretation. Mars Science Laboratory engineers have streamlined the entry, landing and descent of rover curiosity to improve the precision of launching and landing of the rover. Finally, the Mars Science Laboratory engineers have provided the rover curiosity with a reliable power source that lasts longer (“Mars Science Laboratory Launch press kit,” 2011).
Amos, J. (2008, October 11). "NASA committed to Mars rover plan". BBC News.
Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7664965.stm
Brown, D., Webster, G., Diller, G and Rye, J. (2011, November). “Mars Science
Laboratory Launch Press kit.”NASA/ JPL. Retrieved from