I don’t know if anybody who looks occasionally at this blog also keeps up with spaceflight and stuff, but I just had to write my two cents worth about the “Mars Science Laboratory”, this big guy is the next rover heading out to mars in a couple months. “Curiosity” as it has been named is big! JPL keeps saying it’s the size of a Mini Cooper. And its very different from its little predecessors in one major way. This thing is nuclear! It also happens to be better equipped for geology and chemistry studies, and the Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator will let it keep on doing its science stuff right through the martian winter since it makes enough heat not only to power the systems but also to keep the thing from freezing up. Hopefully this one wont finish its career stuck in a sand trap like the Spirit rover did.
JPL has a huge record to live up to, as Spirit and Opportunity way outlived their expected operation time, and Opportunity is still running well.
Also, NASA and JPL really need to consider painting some flames on the side of this thing… That is the only thing that could make it cooler than it already is.
and check out the animation of the landing sequence. its really nifty!!