NASA's Mars Curiosity stretches robotic arm for first time
Robotic arm test on Red Planet's surface goes smoothly, driving next
Computerworld - NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Monday flexed its 7-foot-long robotic arm for the first time since it landed on Mars.
Monday's robotics maneuver had the rover checking its motors and joints by unstowing the arm, extending it using all five joints and then stowing it again.
NASA noted that weeks of testing and calibrating arm movements will lie ahead before the arm will capture its first soil samples and deliver them to Curiosity's scientific instruments.
"We have had to sit tight for the first two weeks since landing, while other parts of the rover were checked out, so to see the arm extended in these images is a huge moment for us," said Matt Robinson, a lead engineer for Curiosity's robotic arm. "The arm is how we are going to get samples into the laboratory instruments and how we place other instruments onto surface targets."
The robotic arm maneuvers a turret of tools, including a camera, drill, spectrometer, a scoop and devices for sieving and portioning soil and powdered rock samples.
The arm's turret has a mass of about 66 pounds and it's nearly two-feet in diameter.
Curiosity's robotic rover predecessors on Mars -- Spirit and Opportunity -- also were built with robotic arms. However, Curiosity's arm is much bigger.
Louise Jandura, a chief engineer on Curiosity's robotic arm team, told Computerworld that the older rovers have two and a half foot-long arms, while Curiosity's is seven feet long. And she noted that the tools on the new arm also are much more capable.
Curiosity also successfully completed another big test just this past Sunday, testing its laser by blasting a fist-size Martian rock and analyzing its makeup.
The rover's Chemistry and Camera instrument, dubbed the ChemCam, zapped the rock with 30 pulses during a 10-second span. With each pulse carrying more than a million watts of power in a five one-billionth-of-a-second burst, the laser turned the rock, which scientists named Coronation, into an ionized, glowing plasma.
Then the ChemCam, which sits on the rover's mast, caught the light from the plasma with a telescope and analyzed the specimen with three spectrometers to discover what the rocks are made of.
Another major test is coming up. The rover is about to actually move across the Martian surface for the first time.
The first movements won't be a long trek, but they will have Curiosity move back and forth on its landing site to test its wheels and motors. This test is expected within the next few days.
Once Curiosity's ability to drive is successfully tested, scientists will turn their attention to plotting the rover's first real trip, which will take it to an area NASA dubbed Glenelg, which marks the intersection of three different kinds of terrain. The trip is expected to take three to four weeks.
- Budd Van Lines Moves Data Closer to Home Shipping and logistics company Budd Van Lines uses Infinio to improve performance on their VDI environment. The company employs a virtualized datacenter based...
- Storage Performance with Cost Control As IT groups expand their server virtualization initiatives, central storage performance can become the bottleneck and create poor end user experience.
- Server-side Caching for the VMware Admin vExpert David Davis weights in on how best-in-class server-side caching solutions can drastically improve storage performance and reduce latency without the addition of...
- Move Mission-Critical Apps to the Cloud with AWS and F5 Read this paper to learn about adoption inhibitors of the cloud, potential solutions, and how advanced Application Delivery Controller (ADC) technologies are critical...
- Live Webcast Security Vulnerabilities Associated With Having Local Administrator Privileges Viewfinity will demonstrate how removing admin rights and granularly managing privileges at the application level reduces the attack surface.
- Live Webcast IBM FlashSystem V840: Leveraging Software-Defined Flash to Drive Your Business With end-to-end, tightly integrated functionality and super-fast flash technology, products like IBM FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution empower businesses to leverage the efficiency...
- What Does it Take to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience? The Two Top-Rated Online Retailers, B&H Photo and Crutchfield Electronics, Share Their Secrets Discuss practical CX tools and service methods such as contact center agents and the use of realtime speech analytics to help contact center...
- Keep Servers Up and Running and Attackers in the Dark An SSL/TLS handshake requires at least 10 times more processing power on a server than on the client. SSL renegotiation attacks can readily... All Topic Center White Papers | Webcasts