Friday, October 19, 2012 7:15pm
Guest Speakers: Kirk Breitenbach of JPL
Lecture: "Mars "Curiosity" Rover - an overview and upate"
The FORUM at Moorpark College, 7075 Campus Road, Moorpark, CA 93021
The Ventura County Astronomical Society (VCAS) will hold its monthly membership meeting on Friday, October 19, 2012 at 7:15 PM at the Forum Auditorium, on the campus of Moorpark College -- 7075 Campus Road, Moorpark CA 93021
The speaker will be Mr. Kirk Breitenbach of JPL. Tonight's session: "The Mars Curisoity Rover -- an overview and update”
Mars Science Laboratory mission is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the red planet. The rover named Curiosity was designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet's "habitability."
The rover will carry the biggest, most advanced suite of instruments for scientific studies ever sent to the Martian surface. The rover will analyze samples scooped from the soil and drilled from rocks. The record of the planet's climate and geology is essentially "written in the rocks and soil" -- in their formation, structure, and chemical composition. The rover's onboard laboratory will study rocks, soils, and the local geologic setting in order to detect chemical building blocks of life (e.g., forms of carbon) on Mars and will assess what the Martian environment was like in the past.
Mars Science Laboratory will rely on new technological innovations, especially for landing. The spacecraft will descend on a parachute and then, during the final seconds prior to landing, lower the upright rover on a tether to the surface, much like a sky crane. Once on the surface, the rover will be able to roll over obstacles up to 75 centimeters (29 inches) high and travel up to 90 meters (295 feet) per hour. On average, the rover is expected to travel about 30 meters (98 feet) per hour..
Arriving at Mars in August 2012, Mars Science Laboratory will begin the next decade of Mars exploration. It represents a huge step in Mars surface science and exploration capability.
Mr. Kirk Breitenbach is a spacecraft systems engineer who has worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the past 22 years and worked on the MSL mission from 2005 to 2008. Prior to this, Mr. Breitenbach worked on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Genesis project, and Cassini mission to Saturn. Mr. Breitenbach is currently working on the Soil Moisture Active Passive mission to measure soil moisture on a global scale for the purpose of improving meteorological models and climate prediction.
The public is invited to attend and learn the enjoyment of amateur astronomy with these educational and enjoyable speakers.