The Rocketry of Curiosity

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The Rocketry of Curiosity

The Rocketry of Curiosity

Rockets and PartsCuriosity launched from earth on November 26, 2011. It was equipped with an Atlas V-541 rocket, which is a two stage rocket designed by Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The Atlas V-541 is made up of four extra boosters, surrounding one main booster. The V-541 was used because it had a heavy payload capabilities required for Curiosity. There was then another rocket on top called the “Centaur” for the second stage.Stage 1: Atlas V-541, holds the fuel and oxygen tanks to get the spacecraft into low earth orbit.S1: Four Surrounding Rockets, used to increase thrust and get the spacecraft out of Earth's atmosphere.Stage 2: Centaur, has fuel and oxygen tanks to get spacecraft into low earth orbit, then fires again to go to Mars.S2: Payload Fairing, thin composite structure to protect the space vehicle in the launch stages.

When to LaunchBecause the Mars and Earth are moving, the launch window is quite strict. For curiosity, the launch window started on 11/25 and lasted until 12/18, both in 2011. As the dates got later in the year, the amount of time they had to launch shortened from about 110 minutes to 40 minutes.

How Long to Get to MarsIt took Curiosity 253 days to get to Mars. At its closest, Mars is 34.8 million miles away from earth. (Happened in 2003)At its furthest, Mars is 250 million miles away. Mars averages around 140 million miles away from earth.

Escape VelocityThe velocity needed to escape earth's atmosphere. Earth's escape velocity is 36,000mph, and each planet has a different one.

Cruise PhaseThe cruise phase's job was to carry MSL through space, to Mars.During the flight, from when the rockets disconnected with the cruise stage, to when it landed on Mars, the cruise stage made adjustments to the course. In addition to maintaining the proper temperature for all the components onboard. Six trajectory corrections were made during the course of its flight. It used fluid and radiators to keep MSL cool, or warm during the journey.The cruise phase used a star tracker to keep it on course and to adjust course for Mars.Cruise stage was 4m in diameter and contained a radiator, support ribs, the rover, solar arrays, an adapter to connect the cruise stage to the rockets, and more.The cruise stage was made out of machined aluminum, and had its own hydrazine propulsion system. In addition to a battery, to power the systems and make adjustments necessary.

Entry, Descent, and LandingThe cruise stage entered Mars, and the heat shield protected it as it landed.The cruise stage then released a parachute, similar to other missions to slow the descent.S turns were used to slow the descent, similar to past projects.Retrorockets were then fired to slow the descent even more, and give the vehicle more control.After that, the bottom of the cruise phase was cut out and a new system called a "skycrane" was used to drop curiosity to Mars. Landed on the floor of Gale Crater on Aug. 6, 2012 Universal Time (evening of Aug. 5, Pacific Time), at 4.6 degrees south latitude, 137.4 degrees east longitude and minus 4,501 meters (2.8 miles) elevation. It landed at Bradbury Landing, which is near the foot of a layered mountain, Aeolis Mons (“Mount Sharp”).

Citations"Cruise Configuration - Mars Science Laboratory." Cruise Configuration - Mars Science Laboratory. NASA, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2015. . Dunbar, Brian. NASA. NASA, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2015. . "Entry, Descent, and Landing Configuration - Mars Science Laboratory." Entry, Descent, and Landing Configuration - Mars Science Laboratory. NASA, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2015. . "How Long Did It Take for Curiosity Lander to Reach Mars?" The Seattle Times. Seattle Times, 10 Aug. 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2015. . "Launch - Mars Science Laboratory." Launch - Mars Science Laboratory. NASA, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2015. . "Launch Windows - Mars Science Laboratory." Launch Windows - Mars Science Laboratory. NASA, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2015. . "Spacecraft - Mars Science Laboratory." Spacecraft - Mars Science Laboratory. NASA, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2015. .

Image 1: Curiosity stage one.

Image 3: Curiosity being made.

Video 1: Curiosity EDL.

Image 2: Curiosity cruise stage.


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