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Backgrounder: Basic information about NASA's Mars rover Curiosity (3)

(Xinhua)

15:02, August 06, 2012

BIG WHEELS

Each of Curiosity's six wheels has an independent drive motor. The two front and two rear wheels also have individual steering motors. This steering allows the rover to make 360-degree turns in-place on the Mars surface. The wheels' diameter is double the wheel diameter on Spirit and Opportunity, which will help Curiosity roll over obstacles up to 75 centimeters (30 inches) high.

ROVER POWER

A nuclear battery will enable Curiosity to operate year-round and farther from the equator than would be possible with only solar power.

MISSION COST

Two and half billion U.S. dollars. That's one billion over its original budget. Curiosity had been supposed to launch in 2009 and land in 2010, but development took longer than expected. The delay gave engineers more time to debug problems and test the spacecraft, but also put the project over budget.

WHEN WILL WE SEND ASTRONAUTS TO MARS?

U.S. President Barack Obama has set a goal for astronauts to orbit Mars by the mid-2030s to be followed by a landing. Before that can happen, the plan is to send astronauts to an asteroid first.
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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:陈丽丹、张茜)

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