Some interesting things about Curiosity:
- It travels at about 5cm a second to preserve power. It takes like 45 minutes to get it across a football Field;
- At one point scientists started to drive Curiosity backwards to even out the wear and tear of the front and back wheels. This is due to sharp rocks that cut into the wheels. These sharp rocks were mostly unknown to scientist until Curiosity observes them;
- It can dig samples and separate them by microns to observe in different onboard experiments;
- The laser burns rock to analyze the kinds of gases released, which in turn tells you what the rock is made of;
- The wheels are one sheet of titantium on the inside, and several sheets on aluminum on the outside. Tears in the wheels actually help the rover navigate sand dunes better. On the other hand, scientist are always watching the wheels to make sure no tears could eventually crack across the whole wheel and lose a piece of the aluminum;
- There are two copies of Curiosity. One on Mars, and one on Earth. The one on Earth is used to try techniques/solutions to various problems that are encountered during the Mars rover’s mission. Also, a third rover, nearly identical to Curiosity, is being built as we type. This will be the rover for the Mars2020 mission.
This portrait of the rover was designed to show the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument atop the rover appearing level. This causes the horizon to appear to tilt toward the left, but in reality it is fairly flat.
For scale, the rover’s wheels are 20 inches (50 centimeters) in diameter and about 16 inches (40 centimeters) wide. The drilled hole in the rock, appearing grey near the lower left corner of the image, is 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters) in diameter.