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Old 10-27-2011, 05:31 PM   #91
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Photos Encapsulating into payload fairing

Encapsulating into fairing (Oct. 25):
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Old 10-28-2011, 09:29 PM   #92
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Florida Today - The Flame Trench: Mars rover headed to launch pad next week
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Old 10-31-2011, 08:58 AM   #93
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Universe Today: Closing the Clamshell on a Martian Curiosity
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:36 PM   #94
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Florida Today - The Flame Trench: Wind delays rover's move to launch pad
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Old 11-02-2011, 09:01 PM   #95
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Photos Payload fairing gets mission logo and is moved onto transporter

Payload fairing gets mission logo and is moved onto transporter (Oct. 29 - Nov. 2):
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Old 11-03-2011, 07:20 PM   #96
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Photos MSL moved to VIF and attached to the rocket

MSL has been moved today to VIF and attached to its Atlas V rocket:
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Discovery News: New Mars Rover Prepared For Thanksgiving Launch

Florida Today - The Flame Trench: Next Mars Explorer Arrives At Launch Pad

SPACE.com: NASA's Next Mars Rover Hoisted Atop Rocket

Universe Today: Curiosity Rover Bolted to Atlas Rocket – In Search of Martian Microbial Habitats

Spaceflight Now:
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Old 11-04-2011, 05:04 PM   #97
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You Tube Video: MSL moved to VIF and attached to the rocket

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Old 11-04-2011, 06:45 PM   #98
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That is some awesome artwork!
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Old 11-08-2011, 07:49 PM   #99
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NASA JPL / NASA / NASA Media Advisory::
Nov. 8, 2011
MEDIA ADVISORY : M11-230
NASA To Hold Media Briefing About Upcoming Mars Rover Launch


WASHINGTON -- NASA will hold a media briefing at 1 p.m. EST on Thursday, Nov. 10, to discuss the upcoming launch of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the largest and most capable rover to be sent to another planet. The televised briefing will take place in the agency's television studio at NASA Headquarters, located at 300 E St. S.W. in Washington.

The MSL mission is scheduled to launch at 10:25 a.m. EST on Nov. 25. The launch period extends to Dec. 18. The spacecraft will deliver a car-size rover named Curiosity to the surface of Mars in August 2012.

Briefing Participants are:
  • Doug McCuistion, director, Mars Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Ashwin Vasavada, MSL deputy project scientist, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif.
  • Pete Theisinger, MSL project manager, JPL

{...}
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Old 11-09-2011, 01:49 PM   #100
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SPACE.com: NASA's Biggest Mars Rover Yet to Launch This Month
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Old 11-10-2011, 09:47 PM   #101
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NASA / NASA JPL:
NASA Ready for November Launch of Car-Size Mars Rover

November 10, 2011

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's most advanced mobile robotic laboratory, which will examine one of the most intriguing areas on Mars, is in final preparations for a launch from Florida's Space Coast at 10:25 a.m. EST (7:25 a.m. PST) on Nov. 25.

The Mars Science Laboratory mission will carry Curiosity, a rover with more scientific capability than any ever sent to another planet. The rover is now sitting atop an Atlas V rocket awaiting liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

"Preparations are on track for launching at our first opportunity," said Pete Theisinger, Mars Science Laboratory project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "If weather or other factors prevent launching then, we have more opportunities through Dec. 18."

Scheduled to land on the Red Planet in August 2012, the one-ton rover will examine Gale Crater during a nearly two-year prime mission. Curiosity will land near the base of a layered mountain 3 miles (5 kilometers) high inside the crater. The rover will investigate whether environmental conditions ever have been favorable for development of microbial life and preserved evidence of those conditions.

"Gale gives us a superb opportunity to test multiple potentially habitable environments and the context to understand a very long record of early environmental evolution of the planet," said John Grotzinger, project scientist for the Mars Science Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "The portion of the crater where Curiosity will land has an alluvial fan likely formed by water-carried sediments. Layers at the base of the mountain contain clays and sulfates, both known to form in water."

Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as earlier Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. The rover will carry a set of 10 science instruments weighing 15 times as much as its predecessors' science payloads.

A mast extending to 7 feet (2.1 meters) above ground provides height for cameras and a laser-firing instrument to study targets from a distance. Instruments on a 7-foot-long (2.1-meter-long) arm will study targets up close. Analytical instruments inside the rover will determine the composition of rock and soil samples acquired with the arm's powdering drill and scoop. Other instruments will characterize the environment, including the weather and natural radiation that will affect future human missions.

"Mars Science Laboratory builds upon the improved understanding about Mars gained from current and recent missions," said Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This mission advances technologies and science that will move us toward missions to return samples from, and eventually send humans to, Mars."

The mission is challenging and risky. Because Curiosity is too heavy to use an air-bag cushioned touchdown, the mission will use a new landing method, with a rocket-powered descent stage lowering the rover on a tether like a kind of sky-crane.

The mission will pioneer precision landing methods during the spacecraft's crucial dive through Mars' atmosphere next August to place the rover onto a smaller landing target than any previously for a Mars mission. The target inside Gale Crater is 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) by 15.5 miles (25 kilometers). Rough terrain just outside that area would have disqualified the landing site without the improved precision.

No mission to Mars since the Viking landers in the 1970s has sought a direct answer to the question of whether life has existed on Mars. Curiosity is not designed to answer that question by itself, but its investigations for evidence about prerequisites for life will steer potential future missions toward answers.

{...}


NASA Press Release: MEDIA ADVISORY : 11-379 - NASA Ready For November Launch Of Car-Sized Mars Rover




NASA / NASA Media Advisory:
Nov. 10, 2011
MEDIA ADVISORY : M11-232
NASA Sets MSL/ATLAS V Launch Coverage Events


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft with the Curiosity rover is set to launch to the planet Mars aboard an Atlas V rocket on Nov. 25, 2011 from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window extends from 10:25 a.m. to 12:08 p.m. EST. The launch period for MSL extends through Dec. 18.

The spacecraft will arrive at Mars in August 2012. Curiosity has 10 science instruments to search for evidence about whether Mars had environments favorable for microbial life, including the chemical ingredients for life. The unique rover will use a laser to look inside rocks and release their gasses so that a spectrometer can analyze them and send the data back to Earth.

Briefings about the mission are scheduled throughout the week leading to launch and will be held at the Kennedy Space Center’s Press Site.

Science Briefings and Prelaunch News Conference (all times are EST)

Monday, Nov. 21, 1 p.m.: "What Do We Know About Mars?"
Participants will be:
  • Michael Meyer, lead scientist, Mars Exploration Program
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • John Grotzinger, project scientist, Mars Science Laboratory
    California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.
  • Bethany Ehlmann, scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    Assistant professor, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.

Tuesday, Nov. 22, 11 a.m.: "Looking for Signs of Life in the Universe"
Participants will be:
  • Mary Voytek, director, Astrobiology Program
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Jamie Foster, professor, Department of Microbiology and Cell Science
    University of Florida, Gainesville
  • Pan Conrad, deputy principle investigator, Sample Analysis at Mars, MSL
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
  • Steven Benner, director, Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution
    Gainesville, Fla.
  • Catharine Conley, planetary protection officer
    NASA Headquarters, Washington

Tuesday, Nov. 22, 1 p.m.: Prelaunch News Conference
Participants will be:
  • Colleen Hartman, assistant associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Omar Baez, NASA launch director
    NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla.
  • Vernon Thorp, program manager, NASA Missions
    United Launch Alliance, Denver, Colo.
  • Peter Theisinger, MSL project manager
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
  • Clay Flinn, launch weather officer
    45th Weather Squadron, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Curiosity Mission Science Briefing: This briefing will immediately follow the prelaunch news conference. Participating in the briefing will be:
  • Michael Meyer, lead scientist for Mars Exploration Program
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • John Grotzinger, project scientist for Mars Science Laboratory
    California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.
  • Paul Mahaffy, principal investigator for Sample Analysis at Mars investigation on Curiosity
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
  • David Blake, principal investigator for Chemistry and Mineralogy investigation on Curiosity
    NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
  • Michael Malin, principal investigator for the Mast Camera and Mars Descent Imager investigations on Curiosity, Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, Calif.
  • Roger Wiens, principal investigator for Chemistry and Camera investigation on Curiosity
    Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, N.M.

Wednesday, Nov. 23, 1 p.m.: "Why Mars Excites and Inspires Us"
Participants will be:
  • Leland Melvin, associate administrator for Education
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Scott Anderson, teacher and science department chairman, Da Vinci School for Science & the Arts, El Paso, Texas
  • Clara Ma, student, NASA contest winner for naming Curiosity
    Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas
  • Veronica McGregor, manager, Media Relations Office, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2 p.m.: "Missions to Mars: Robotics and Humans Together"
(Originating from NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston)
  • Doug Ming, manager, Human Exploration Science Office; MSL Co-Investigator
    NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston
  • Bret Drake, deputy chief architect, Human Spaceflight Architecture Team
    NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston
  • Matt Ondler, assistant director, Advanced Project Development
    NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston
  • Mike Gernhardt, NASA astronaut
    NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston
  • Dr. John Charles, program scientist, Human Research Program
    NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston
A post-launch news conference will be held at the NASA News Center approximately 2 hours after launch.


{...}


Atlas V Launch Vehicle Rollout

Wednesday, Nov. 23: There will be a media opportunity to observe the rollout of the Atlas V rocket from the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad. Reporters should be at the Kennedy press site at 9 a.m. for transportation by bus to the viewing location near Space Launch Complex 41. Media should register their planned attendance at the event on a sign-up list at the Kennedy press site.

Remote Camera Placement at Space Launch Complex 41

Wednesday, Nov. 23: Photographers who wish to set up remote sound-activated cameras at the Atlas V launch pad will be taken by government bus to Space Launch Complex 41.Photographers should meet in the parking lot at the Kennedy press site at 12:30 p.m. Remote cameras are being placed at the pad two days before launch because the pad will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. Media should plan on using a timer that can be set for more than 24 hours. Only news media representatives establishing a remote camera at the pad will be permitted for this activity. Photographers should register on the sign-up list at the Kennedy press site.

Launch Day Press Site Access

Friday, Nov. 25: Reporters will cover the MSL launch from the Kennedy press site. Access will be through Gate 2 on State Road 3 or Gate 3 on State Road 405, east of the Kennedy Visitor Complex, beginning at 6 a.m. There will be no access through Gate 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station or Gate 4 to the north of Kennedy Space Center.
Kennedy News Center Hours
Monday, Nov. 21: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 22: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 23: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 23: Closed for Thanksgiving

Friday, Nov. 25: 5:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
NASA Television Launch Coverage
On Friday, Nov. 25, NASA Television coverage of the launch will begin at 8 a.m. and conclude after spacecraft separation from the Atlas V occurs 53 minutes, 49 seconds after launch. Live launch coverage will be carried on all NASA Television channels.
A post-launch news conference will be held at the Kennedy press site approximately 2 hours after launch. A post-launch news release will be issued as soon as the health of MSL is confirmed. Spokespeople also will be available at the press site to answer questions and do interviews.

For NASA Television downlink information, schedule information and streaming video, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

Audio only of the news conferences and the launch coverage will be carried on the NASA "V" circuits which may be accessed by dialing 321-867-1220, -1240, -1260 or -7135.On launch day, mission audio of the launch conductor’s countdown activities without NASA TV launch commentary will be carried on 321-867-7135 starting at 7:15 a.m. Launch coverage also will be available on local amateur VHF radio frequency 146.940 MHz broadcast within Brevard County.

NASA Web Coverage
Extensive prelaunch and launch day coverage of the liftoff of the MSL spacecraft aboard an Atlas V rocket will be available on NASA's home page on the Internet at:

http://www.nasa.gov

A prelaunch webcast for the MSL mission will be streamed on the Web on Wednesday, Nov. 22, at noon. Live countdown coverage through NASA's Launch Blog begins at 8 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 25. Coverage features live updates as countdown milestones occur, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff. For questions about countdown coverage, contact Jeanne Ryba at 321-867-7824.

To view the webcast and the blog or to learn more about the MSL mission, visit the mission home page at:

http://www.nasa.gov/msl

Twitter
The NASA News Twitter feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the NASA News Twitter feed, visit:

http://www.twitter.com/nasakennedy

{...}




SPACE.com: Mars Rover’s Hovering Act Will Have NASA Scientists Biting Nails
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:36 PM   #102
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NASA:
Nov. 15, 2011
Launch Team Focuses on Unique Needs of Curiosity

About the size of a small SUV and weighing as much as some cars, the Mars Science Laboratory "Curiosity" is being asked to conduct the most intensive examination of the surface of the red planet ever attempted. It carries cameras, a robotic arm, drill and even a laser to vaporize bits of rock at a distance.

That's too much work for solar panels to power, so NASA is fueling the rover with a plutonium-powered battery of sorts called a multi-mission radioisotope thermal generator, or MMRTG. Loaded with 10 pounds of the material, the power source is expected to generate electricity for a mission lasting at least two Earth years.

"It requires a fancy power supply in order to do the job," said Dr. Pam Conrad, deputy principal investigator for MSL. "This enables us to make measurements all day, every day, at night, in the winter."

Before researchers get a taste of groundbreaking research about Mars, the launch team at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is focusing on its responsibility to safely launch the spacecraft and its power source.

Even if there were an accident and a release of plutonium, something officials put at a 3-tenths of one percent chance of happening, the material would most likely remain on federal property either at Kennedy or Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the mission's launch site.

However, preparation has been the foremost thought for NASA officials and the launch team will be beefed up with officials from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Calif., specifically the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center, or NARAC, a team that models plumes to predict radiation hazards.

Ron Baskett, an atmospheric scientist for NARAC, said a network will be in place on launch day to feed critical information to the Livermore lab to generate the models if there is a release of radioactive material.

Even the network to collect that data will be strengthened a bit over the usual launch day measures. The National Weather Service's Melbourne office will focus some of its instruments on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the day of launch, now targeted for Nov. 25.

For its part, NASA and the Air Force's 45th Space Wing have 46 towers to collect wind data and two more detailed instruments that collect information about conditions more than 20 miles above Earth.

"We believe we have the right team put together, with the right people and all the control and functions that you might expect for this type of launch," Brisbin said.

Officials expect a normal launch day, culminating in an Atlas V lifting Curiosity off the Earth and on a path to Mars.

"If you see a plume, it does not mean there's been an accident," said Dr. Frank Merceret, director of research for Kennedy's weather office. Most launches produce a plume of some sort, he said, and even accident would not necessarily indicate any radiation has leaked from the spacecraft.

NASA has used the power units 26 times in the past, including the Apollo moon landings and the Viking landers on Mars. Also, they've been used to power the Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft, along with the Galileo mission to Jupiter. More recently, the Cassini mission to Saturn and New Horizons mission to Pluto both run on RTGs. All were launched safely.

{...}




NewScientist: Mega-rover ready to hunt for life signs on Mars
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Old 11-18-2011, 07:57 AM   #103
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Spaceflight Now: Nuclear power generator hooked up to Mars rover

Quote:
Engineers installed the plutonium power source on NASA's Curiosity rover Thursday, adding the final piece to the complex robot before its Nov. 25 blastoff to Mars.

The Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator, or MMRTG, moved from a preparation building to the Atlas 5 rocket's Vertical Integration Facility early Thursday.

The 99-pound device was lifted inside the building and inserted through an access door on the rocket's bulbous white payload fairing. Technicians placed the power source on Curiosity through an opening on the spacecraft's backshell, which encloses the rover and its landing system during the journey from Earth to Mars.

It's a simple connection, according to David Gruel, manager of the mission's assembly, test and launch operations phase.

"We have four bolts holding it on and we hook up the electrical connections," Gruel said.

Once the MMRTG is all hooked up, the spacecraft will begin receiving its own power. The final power-up is scheduled for Friday morning, and it won't be turned off again.

"It's really cool that when the vehicle is powered on [Friday] with the RTG that it's basically going to stay powered all the way through the mission," Gruel said.

The attachment of the power source is one of the last steps to prepare the $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory mission for launch. The 197-foot-tall Atlas 5 rocket will roll to the launch pad Nov. 23 in advance of liftoff Nov. 25 at 10:25 a.m. EST (1525 GMT).

{...}

The Mars Science Laboratory's MMRTG power source. Credit: NASA/KSC


A glowing pellet of plutonium-238. Credit: U.S. Department of Energy





(not sure if this was posted already, but it explains what the MMRTG does)

Last edited by IronRain; 11-18-2011 at 08:44 AM.
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Old 11-18-2011, 09:54 AM   #104
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The great advantage with the RTGs is that you don't have to worry with hardware power-on once in orbit, solar panels deployement & alignement, like it was the case with Phobos-Grunt.
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Old 11-18-2011, 09:56 AM   #105
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N_Molson View Post
 The great advantage with the RTGs is that you don't have to worry with hardware power-on once in orbit, solar panels deployement & alignement, like it was the case with Phobos-Grunt.
Or all the dust on the solar panels once the spacecraft is on the surface of mars, like with the MERs.

Last edited by IronRain; 11-18-2011 at 10:08 AM.
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