Ray Bradbury Lives on in NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity’s Exploration

PASADENA, Calif. --
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has begun driving from 
its landing site, which
scientists announced
today they have named
for the late author,
Ray Bradbury. 

Making its first movement on the Martian surface, Curiosity's drive 
combined forward, turn and reverse segments. This placed the rover 
roughly 20 feet (6 meters) from the spot where it landed 16 days ago. 

NASA has approved the Curiosity science team's choice to name the 
landing ground for the influential author who was born 92 years ago 
today and died this year. The location where Curiosity touched down 
is now called Bradbury Landing. 

"This was not a difficult choice for the science team," said Michael 
Meyer, NASA program scientist for Curiosity. "Many of us and millions 
of other readers were inspired in our lives by stories Ray Bradbury 
wrote to dream of the possibility of life on Mars." 

Today's drive confirmed the health of Curiosity's mobility system and 
produced the rover's first wheel tracks on Mars, documented in images 
taken after the drive. During a news conference today at NASA's Jet 
Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., the mission's lead 
rover driver, Matt Heverly, showed an animation derived from 
visualization software used for planning the first drive. 

"We have a fully functioning mobility system with lots of amazing 
exploration ahead," Heverly said. 

Curiosity will spend several more days of working beside Bradbury 
Landing, performing instrument checks and studying the surroundings, 
before embarking toward its first driving destination approximately 
1,300 feet (400 meters) to the east-southeast. 

"Curiosity is a much more complex vehicle than earlier Mars rovers. 
The testing and characterization activities during the initial weeks 
of the mission lay important groundwork for operating our precious 
national resource with appropriate care," said Curiosity Project 
Manager Pete Theisinger of JPL. "Sixteen days in, we are making 
excellent progress." 

The science team has begun pointing instruments on the rover's mast 
for investigating specific targets of interest near and far. The 
Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument used a laser and 
spectrometers this week to examine the composition of rocks exposed 
when the spacecraft's landing engines blew away several inches of 
overlying material. 

The instrument's principal investigator, Roger Weins of Los Alamos 
National Laboratory in New Mexico, reported that measurements made on 
the rocks in this scoured-out feature called Goulburn suggest a 
basaltic composition. "These may be pieces of basalt within a 
sedimentary deposit," Weins said. 

Curiosity began a two-year prime mission on Mars when the Mars ScienceLaboratory spacecraft delivered the car-sized rover to its landing 
target inside Gale Crater on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The mission 
will use 10 science instruments on the rover to assess whether the 
area has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for 
microbial life. 

In a career spanning more than 70 years, Ray Bradbury inspired 
generations of readers to dream, think and create. A prolific author 
of hundreds of short stories and nearly 50 books, as well as 
numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, 
Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. 

His groundbreaking works include "Fahrenheit 451," "The Martian 
Chronicles," "The Illustrated Man," "Dandelion Wine," and "Something 
Wicked This Way Comes." He wrote the screenplay for John Huston's 
classic film adaptation of "Moby Dick," and was nominated for an 
Academy Award. He adapted 65 of his stories for television's "The Ray 
Bradbury Theater," and won an Emmy for his teleplay of "The Halloween 
Tree." 

JPL manages the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity for NASA's Science 
Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed 
and assembled at JPL.

One Response to "Ray Bradbury Lives on in NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity’s Exploration"

  1. boscobob   August 24, 2012 at 1:06 am

    I can think of no better tribute to a great American author, who asked us to leave out doubt and skepticism behind…and to believe in worlds afar.

    Reply

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