January 19, 2011

Engineers test the first-of-its-kind landing system on NASA's next Mars rover.


Hi, I'm Savannah McCoy and I'm the rover verification and validation lead.

My job is to run system-level tests on the rover's structure to insure it's capable of the requirements we have for Mars. Basically, for the Mars program, we build two rovers in parallel. One's the flight rover and one's the test rover, or DTM. The main difference between the flight rover and the DTM rover is that the flight rover actually goes to Mars. Just recently, we ran a major test called the sky crane full-motion drop test. This test is to check out the EDL sequence or Entry, Descent and Landing sequence for Curiosity. For the first time, we're going to be touching down on Mars with just the rover's wheels. So this is the sequence leading up to the touchdown on Mars. Because this test is so important to the project, almost all the team wanted to gather and watch the test. We actually projected it into multiple conference rooms around the lab so that everyone could have access to this very large milestone for our project.

‘Test is commencing in 5. 5-4-3-2-1, fire!'

(Test sounds)


The reason why we do all this testing is to prove that what we think is going to happen actually will happen when Curiosity gets to Mars and that we really understand the dynamics of these vehicles. During this test everything behaved as expected. We were able to collect all the data and instrumentation that we were hoping for, so overall, definitely, a huge success.

I'm Savannah McCoy and this has been your Building Curiosity update.

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

You Might Also Like