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A red cent on the red planet: the story of a semi-rare 1909 coin on Mars

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), aka the Curiosity Rover is something of a robotic geologist, so it makes sense to include the tools of the trade in some form, including a calibration target. For giving a sense of scale with smaller geologic features, pennies are often used for scale, as a common item with a standard dimension. But why is there a 1909 penny on the Rover? That's thanks to Kenneth Edgett, the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) principal investigator and an amateur coin collector who appreciates the history of the controversial 1909 V.D.B. Lincoln Cent.
posted by filthy light thief on Jul 14, 2014 - 18 comments

Curiosity's First Anniversary

Twelve Months in Two Minutes; Curiosity's First Year on Mars. Happy First Anniversary, Curiosity! [Previously]
posted by homunculus on Aug 6, 2013 - 25 comments

Our Robot/Meatbag Space Future

Almost Being There: Why the Future of Space Exploration Is Not What You Think
posted by Artw on Nov 13, 2012 - 33 comments

Curiosity's descent is our ascent

Take the ride down to the surface of Mars in full 1080p glory. [YouTube]
posted by Burhanistan on Aug 22, 2012 - 98 comments

Curiouser and curiouser

NASA commentary on Curiosity landing has just started, landing itself is expected two hours later, at 5:31 am UTC/10:31 pm PDT. [more inside]
posted by egor83 on Aug 5, 2012 - 1193 comments

Oh man look at those cavemen go

Coming soon to a red planet near you, it's the Mars Science Laboratory! On Monday, August 6 at 05:31 UTC (other times around the world), NASA's Curiosity rover is expected to land on Mars in search of conditions suited to past or present Martian life. Live coverage begins on NASA TV at 03:30 UTC. But this mission has been years in the making, so if you have a little catching up to do... [more inside]
posted by ddbeck on Aug 4, 2012 - 139 comments

Seven minutes of Martian terror

Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror is a YouTube video guaranteed to get you excited about NASA again. It shows the elaborate process that will get the Curiosity rover onto the Martian surface on August 5. It involves the largest supersonic parachute ever built, multiple vehicles, 76 explosive devices, and a skycrane.
posted by blahblahblah on Jun 22, 2012 - 91 comments

Prime Martian-Science Real Estate

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA has narrowed the target for its most advanced Mars rover, Curiosity, which will land on the Red Planet in August. The car-sized rover will arrive closer to its ultimate destination for science operations, but also closer to the foot of a mountain slope that poses a landing hazard. "We're trimming the distance we'll have to drive after landing by almost half," said Pete Theisinger, Mars Science Laboratory project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "That could get us to the mountain months earlier." It was possible to adjust landing plans because of increased confidence in precision landing technology aboard the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, which is carrying the Curiosity rover.
posted by mhoye on Jun 13, 2012 - 38 comments

RIP Blythe Spirit

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has announced: NASA has ended operational planning activities for the Mars rover Spirit and transitioned the Mars Exploration Rover Project to a single-rover operation focused on Spirit's still-active twin, Opportunity. New Scientist has a quality obituary for the little Mars Rover that could.
posted by hippybear on May 28, 2011 - 44 comments

Spirit's Swan Song?

Real robot drama is happening on Mars today. Spirit, racing for her life to find shelter before winter, injured and underpowered after four years of hard labor, may have made her most significant find yet. The broken foot she's dragged behind her for the past two years unexpectedly uncovered evidence of a once-wet Mars with conditions theoretically hospitable for primitive life.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Dec 12, 2007 - 89 comments

Hot space bot uses stirling engine

NASA proposes using a Stirling cooler (essentially a Stirling engine in reverse) to keep a probe cool on the surface of Venus, which has had a tendency to melt or smash previous probes. The cooler would maintain a 25cm sphere within the probe at 200°C -- 100°C above the boiling point of water but sufficiently cool for a high-temperature microcontroller to operate. The waste heat radiators on the exterior of the sphere would reach the temperature of 500°C, 40°C above the the normal Venusian surface temperature.
posted by Artw on Nov 12, 2007 - 40 comments

Race To Mars

"Somewhere on the planet are ten-year-olds who, someday, will be the first people to set foot on Mars" 300 scientists and space-experts contributed to what's billed as "a realistic vision of the first Human Mission to Mars" -- Race to Mars. Discovery Channel Canada used Hollywood special effects, but for added realism rather than ray-guns and aliens. On the website, you can argue about whether they got it right. www.racetomars.ca
posted by richlach on Sep 7, 2007 - 24 comments

Free at last, free at last, thank Mars almighty, Opportunity is free at last

Free at last, free at last, thank Mars almighty Opportunity is free at last. After a several week long struggle, the Mars Opportunity Rover is free from the sand trap many across the world had predicted would bring it to an end.
posted by mk1gti on Jun 4, 2005 - 22 comments

MAKE IT RED, DAMMIT

It looks like NASA may be altering the colors of the Mars Spirit rover photos.
posted by mrbula on Jan 18, 2004 - 36 comments

Mars Rover, Quicktime.

Next Best Thing to Being There. A Quicktime Mars Rover Simulation.
posted by kozad on Jan 17, 2004 - 8 comments

Mars Exploration Rover Spirit lands on Mars

We landed on Mars. The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has captured its first color image of Mars. It is the highest resolution picture ever taken of another planet. Fascinating.
posted by mad on Jan 7, 2004 - 27 comments

Brace yourself for immediate disintegration

Mars, take II - Still no word from Beagle 2 (discussed here), unfortunately, as Mars maintains its tough reputation. However, the first of two rovers much larger than 1997's very successful Pathfinder is expected to hit the Martian surface with a giant bounce tonight at 8:35 p.m. PST. Check out the realistic simulation videos of how it will land and get to work, then watch Nasa TV (RealVideo) for live coverage.
posted by planetkyoto on Jan 3, 2004 - 51 comments

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