NASA's Curiosity Mars rover recently spotted distinctive hexagonal mud cracks on Mars that scientists speculate may offer the first evidence of wet-dry cycles on the planet.
About Mars Curiosity Rover
- It is a U.S. robotic vehicle designed to explore the surface of Mars.
- It was launched aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on Nov. 26, 2011, and landed on Aug. 5, 2012, after taking eight months and 10 days to reach the Red Planet.
- The rover is currently roaming Mars' landscape looking for signs of life and learning about the Red Planet's unique environment.
- The rover is part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission which tested a novel landing method that saw the spacecraft descend on a parachute before its landing system fired up its rockets and hovered as the rover was lowered down onto the surface.
- It is about 3 metres long and weighs about 900 kg.
- It does not rely on solar cells for its energy needs but rather draws its electric power from a thermoelectric power generator, with the heat source being the radioactive decay of plutonium and the heat sink being Mars’s atmosphere.
- According to NASA, Curiosity has four main science goals in support of the agency's Mars exploration program:
- Determine whether life ever arose on Mars.
- Characterize the climate of Mars.
- Characterize the geology of Mars.
- Prepare for human exploration.
What is NASA’s Perseverance rover?
- It is a robotic explorer to land on Mars as part of NASA’s ongoing Mars 2020 Mission.
- Main Job: Seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) for possible return to Earth.
- The rover will collect samples of rock and soil, encase them in tubes, and leave them on the planet's surface to be returned to Earth at a future date.
- Launch: It was launched on July 30, 2020 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
- Landing: Successfully landed on the surface of Mar's Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.
- It is about 3 metres long, 2.7 metres wide, and 2.2 metres tall.
- It is about the size of a car, but weighs only about 1,025 kilograms with all instruments on board.
- Power source: Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG). Converts heat from the radioactive decay of plutonium into electricity.
Q1) What is thermoelectricity?
Thermoelectricity, also known as the thermoelectric effect, refers to the phenomenon in which a temperature gradient across a material results in the generation of an electric voltage or potential difference. This effect is a manifestation of the relationship between temperature and the movement of charge carriers (usually electrons) within a conductive material.