March 02, 2011

Engineers put the rover through a human-made earthquake to make sure nothing breaks on its trip to Mars.


Hi, I'm Randy Stark and this is your Building Curiosity Update.

We're here in the Environmental Test Facility at JPL, where Curiosity is going through a series of random vibration tests. This test is like putting Curiosity through a major earthquake. It's going to shake it both side to side and up and down. You'll notice that Curiosity is actually in its flight configuration, which is upside down.

(shaking noise)


'3-2-1....We have ignition.'

These tests will insure that the hardware was not only built correctly, but assembled and will survived the launch conditions. Next, will be system thermal vacuum tests, where we put Curiosity into a large vacuum chamber and simulate the environments, both hot and cold, that Curiosity will see during its journey to Mars and also during its life on Mars. This sure seems like we're putting Curiosity through a lot of abuse, but the more testing we can do here on Earth will insure a safer journey on the way to Mars and a longer life once we get to Mars.

This is Randy Stark and this has been your Building Curiosity Update.

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