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Mars rover Curiosity embodiment of advancement in probe technologies

(Xinhua)

14:40, August 06, 2012

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is set to touch down in the Gale Crater area of Mars early Monday.

Compared with previous Mars rovers, Curiosity with 10 science instruments on board is undoubtedly the embodiment of the great progress in multiple technologies used in the exploration of the Red Planet.

With a body weight of over 900 kg, Curiosity is five times heavier than its rover predecessors Spirit and Opportunity, both of which made their Mars landing in 2004.

The heavyweight Curiosity will use for the first time an auxiliary landing gear called "sky crane." The rocket-powered device will enable Curiosity to land within a smaller target area than previous Mars missions.

Despite concerns over its reliability, the sky crane actually constitutes a better landing system in terms of safety, said John Grotzinger, lead scientist on the Curiosity project.

In 1997 Mars rover the Sojourner made a successful landing on the Red Planet and explored an area of 12 meters around its landing spot and its total traveling distance on Mars was about 100 meters.
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