The Dryden team did a great job accommodating our logistical and flight support needs, from hangar space to flight clearances.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech › Larger image Planners of NASA's next Mars mission have selected a flight schedule that will use favorable positions for two currently orbiting NASA Mars orbiters to obtain maximum information during descent and landing. The longer trajectory allows direct communication to Earth all the way to touchdown." The simplicity of direct-to-Earth communication from Curiosity during landing has appeal to mission planners, in comparison to relying on communications relayed via NASA's Mars Odyssey, which has been orbiting Mars since 2001, and NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, in operation since 2006.
"We have restricted airspace and a large dry lakebed that is useful in simulating several Mars-like features.
Dryden is also conveniently close to JPL, so troubleshooting the system and fixing any issues has been relatively easy to accomplish," she said.
When Curiosity Cam is off air, you will see a slideshow of Mars and rover images.
› Send questions or comments NASA Dryden provided logistics and other support for a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory team on-site that tested the landing radar system for the next Mars rover mission, called the Mars Science Laboratory.
The new skycrane landing method was chosen for the next Mars mission because Curiosity will be the largest rover yet sent to Mars.
It's too large for the airbag-cushioned landing method used by NASA's Mars Pathfinder mission in 1997 and the twin Mars Exploration Rover landings in 2004.
Curiosity Cam takes you inside the clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., so you can watch the next Mars rover being built.
Technicians assembling and testing the Mars Science Laboratory, aka Curiosity, are covered head-to-toe in "bunny suits." These white smocks, booties and facemasks help protect against Earthly contaminants hitching a ride to Mars.
“Our JPL team is thrilled to have accomplished this critical radar field test at Dryden,” said Steven Lee, MSL’s Guidance, Navigation, and Control Systems manager.
“The large, flat expanse of Rogers Dry Lake provided an ideal venue for our initial tests.
Wolfe Air Aviation, of Pasadena, Calif., provided their Eurocopter AS350 AStar helicopter and crew for the tests. Due to an Earth-Mars planetary alignment, this launch period actually allows for a Mars arrival in the earlier portion of the landing dates under consideration.