[photo, above: MSL's descent stage, which files the rover down to Mars' surface using eight rockets, and lowers it on a tether for landing. The orange spheres are propellant tanks.]
This week, Boing Boing was invited to visit NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the first and only opportunity for media to enter the Pasadena, CA clean room where NASA’s next Mars rover, Curiosity, and other components of the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft have been built for launch in late 2011 from Florida.
Shipment from the clean room to Florida will begin next month. Curiosity rover recently completed tests under simulated space and Mars-surface environmental conditions in another building and is back in the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for other tests. Spacecraft assembly and testing specialists showed Boing Boing the rover and the other spacecraft components, including the descent stage “sky crane.”
Photographer Joseph Linaschke visited on behalf of Boing Boing (he donned a bunny suit for the occasion) and shot this series of photos. More below.
Captions for Boing Boing by Ashwin Vasavada, a scientist with the NASA JPL MSL program.
[photo, above: MSL's 4.5-meter aeroshell that encapsulates the rover and descent stage during cruise to Mars and its entry into Mars' upper atmosphere. The upper cage will hold the parachute.]
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