Thanks for joining us here today! This was great fun. We got a lot of questions about the engineering challenges of the rover and the prospects of life on Mars. We tried to answer as many as we could. If we didn't answer yours directly, check other locations in the thread. Thanks again!

We're a group of engineers and scientists working on NASA's Mars Curiosity rover mission. On Aug 5/6, Curiosity will celebrate one Earth year on Mars! There's a proof pic of us here Here's the list of participants for the AMA, they will add their initials to the replies:

Joy Crisp, MSL Deputy Project Scientist

Megan Richardson, Mechanisms Downlink Engineer

Louise Jandura, Sampling System Chief Engineer

Tracy Neilson, MER and MSL Fault Protection Designer

Jennifer Trosper, MSL Deputy Project Manager

Elizabeth Dewell, Tactical Mission Manager

Erisa Hines, Mobility Testing Lead

Cassie Bowman, Mars Public Engagement

Carolina Martinez, Mars Public Engagement

Sarah Marcotte, Mars Public Engagement

Courtney O'Connor, Curiosity Social Media Team

Veronica McGregor, Curiosity Social Media Team

Comments: 2913 • Responses: 101  • Date: 

stepwise_refinement1250 karma

Who is the best at Kerbal Space Program in the office?

CuriosityMarsRover1495 karma

We did a poll in the room and no one is using KSP. Too busy it seems doing the real deal! - VM

jizzed_in_my_pants1070 karma

How long is the Rover expected to work?

I hope that you tell it every day it's doing a great job!
http://xkcd.com/695/

CuriosityMarsRover891 karma

Curiosity has enough fuel to last for about a decade and is built to be robust. Mission length is one Mars year, two Earth years but we expect it to last much longer. - SM

zeebs758359 karma

What type of fuel does Curiousity use?

CuriosityMarsRover616 karma

Curiosity has an MMRTG that provides about 100W of power continuously along with a Lithium Ion battery that has ~80 AHr capacity. THat's enough energy to keep us awake and heating / operating for about 6 8 hours per day depending on what we're doing, and providing power for us to sleep the rest of the time (yes, we need power to sleep as well!) - JHT

LutzExpertTera201 karma

How much of Mars do you expect the Curiosity to examine over a decade?

CuriosityMarsRover460 karma

Curiosity will most likely never leave Gale crater - it is a big place (96 miles across) but there is so much to look at, many layers of rock that represent billions of years of geologic history. So Curiosity will study one area in depth. - SM

CuriosityMarsRover378 karma

With driving being limited to 100 - 200 meters per sol, Mars seems like a pretty big place! - JHT

CuriosityMarsRover594 karma

Our mission length is one Mars year which is two Earth years but we built that rover to last much longer. Curiosity is secure in the knowledge that she is doing an excellent job! - SM

EMacfarlane779 karma

What has been the most significant discovery so far?

CuriosityMarsRover1206 karma

The results from our first rock drilling told us that the past environment, when that mudstone rock formed, was suitable for life. The mudstone formed in an ancient river system or an intermittently wet lake bed that could have provided the chemical energy and other favorable conditions for microbial life, if life existed then. This ancient wet environment was not harshly oxidizing, acidic or extremely salty. All the necessary chemical building blocks were available. (JC)

Mikey-2-Guns352 karma

If conditions were good for life why do you think there has been no hard evidence found yet to show that life did exist there in the past? And what do you think happened to all of the water that used to be there?

CuriosityMarsRover624 karma

Curiosity isn't equipped to detect life. The instruments were selected to meet the objective of characterizing environments and searching for habitable environments. It has been successful in doing that. (JC)

CuriosityMarsRover600 karma

Over millions of years the water evaporated because the atmosphere got too thin to support it in liquid form. Mars does not have a global magnetic field the way Earth does, which helps shield the atmosphere from stripped away by the sun's damaging radiation. So while there is plenty of CO2 and H20 ice, no liquid is possible. If life arose on Mars, it would have been millions or even billions of years ago, and preserving evidence of life for billions of years is very hard. So the evidence could be there and we haven't found it, or life didn't arise. We have to find out! - SM

CuriosityMarsRover283 karma

Much of the water has been lost to space (stripped away by the solar wind) and some of it is now frozen in polar ice and ground ice at high latitudes. Some water is bound in minerals. (JC)

EmilyRussom723 karma

Greetings Engineers! Thanks for doing this AMA.

Please tell me that you guys intentionally programmed Curiosity to draw a penis on the surface of Mars.

CuriosityMarsRover1199 karma

Some things you get for free... EH

tisgdayfc752 karma

Your initials make this reply seem a bit canadian, eh?

CuriosityMarsRover963 karma

LOL (from the Canadian in the room). - VM

cthulhuburger596 karma

I love reading Curiosity's tweets and Facebook updates! How did you come up with the rover's charming personality for these posts?

CuriosityMarsRover782 karma

[Moving up the reply to make it more visible]
We appreciate your question and we're glad you like the personality! Curiosity had the benefit of learning a lot from a previous Twitter account for @MarsPhoenix (2008). It was obvious during @MarsPhoenix that using first person was the best way to go. People were more responsive to the first people and it was easier to fit tweets into 140 characters. Curiosity is a mashup of personalities from three of us working together to do the posts each day. We want to make it fun but educational and interactive. - VM

nofapoclock522 karma

As an engineering student at a university, I find it almost unbelievable that your entire team is female! I'd estimate the student ratio of male to female engineers is around 10 to 1. How rare is this at the professional level?

CuriosityMarsRover611 karma

The entire group participating in today's Reddit is female but of course there are many men on the Curiosity team too. The women in the room say the 10 to 1 ratio may have been true at their universities, but it's not the case at JPL. Also, the ratio changes from team to team -- software design teams seems to skew male, but the testers and integrators skewed more female. - VM

CuriosityMarsRover242 karma

Just the folks answering questions today are female but the Curiosity team has many females engineers and scientists. My university (MIT) is now 45% female. I think our project is a bit less than that and it varies with the field. Certainly, there are many more female engineers than when I started working at JPL 20 years ago. - JHT

MarsCuriosityRover511 karma

When do I get to come home?

CuriosityMarsRover238 karma

Soon I hope! -tn

ken27238462 karma

If you had unlimited funds and the technology where would you like to send a rover?

CuriosityMarsRover741 karma

Rover to an asteroid, a comet, Europa, and Titan. And the moon! -tn

CuriosityMarsRover456 karma

To some of the other earth-like planets in the universe that missions like Kepler are discovering. --JHT

CuriosityMarsRover315 karma

The botttom of Vallis Marineris. (JC)

dclady86431 karma

Do you find that the Curiosity Rover has a hard time concentrating on it's work since it's always tweeting?

CuriosityMarsRover561 karma

With 10 science instruments, the rover's really good at multitasking. -CO

Taxikab96422 karma

As a high schooler, what can I major in college to get a job working with rovers at NASA?

CuriosityMarsRover441 karma

There are lots of options. I majored in Mechanical Engineering but any science, engineering, programming job would be an option on the technical side. - MR

Update: Hi Everyone, I'm so glad there's so much interest! Definitely check out or online applications: https://careerlaunch.jpl.nasa.gov/. Read through job descriptions and see what requirements there are for the types of positions you are interested in. That may help you decide on a major. As a high school or college student you can apply for internships or co-ops. There are several hundred summer interns on lab right now. I've met a few high school students but college students are more common. Look on the career launch website, Space Grants: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/education/index.cfm?page=354 or SURF programs: http://www.surf.caltech.edu/.

From an engineering side, it is common for employees to get hired on with a Bachelor's or Maser's degree. Higher degrees are more common on the science side, though you see a mix of everything. It is also fairly common for co-ops and interns to convert to full-time employees so I really recommend looking into those options. I myself did 2, 6-month long co-ops before I started full time. It was a great way to see what the job entailed and make connections that would help me get a full-time offer.

For those of you mentioning Purdue, I know many Purdue Alumni working at JPL. Cornell, RPI, Caltech, Stanford, Georgia Tech, and Cal Poly Pomona are popular but people come from all over. I graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering.

I hope this helps. Good luck to you all. With enough ambition and hard work I'm sure you can land your dream job! -MR

christerflea313 karma

Do you think Curiosity will ever be in the presence of a human again? (be it on Mars)

CuriosityMarsRover667 karma

NASA does plan to send humans to Mars in the future, but it is unlikely we would send them to check out the existing rovers on the surface. Too many other interesting places to explore. Mars has the surface area of Earth, minus the oceans. - SM

CuriosityMarsRover306 karma

Hope so. I'd love for humans to go take some pictures of her. -tn

15rthughes308 karma

What has been the most intense moment on working with the mars rover?

CuriosityMarsRover676 karma

For me landing was the most intense moment. We all gathered together with all the team members who had put so much into this mission that we were on the edge of our seats waiting to hear how the 7 minutes of terror would end. The feeling when we got that first photo back of the wheel on the ground was one of the greatest feelings in the world - MR

CuriosityMarsRover307 karma

On Sol 200, we had a hardware problem on the rover that then caused the software to not work properly. After looking at the data, we decided the safest thing to do would be to swap to the back-up computer that didn't have the problem. We did this as soon as we could by getting a large (70m) station over Madrid and sending hardware commands that bypassed software to swap computers. We then had to wait the round trip light time (~ 30 minutes at the time) to get the signal that it had all worked fine. It did and now we are on the back-up computer! JHT

15rthughes121 karma

That had to have been terrifying waiting those 30 minutes.

CuriosityMarsRover232 karma

And the signal was delayed a few minutes due to drift on the clock! -tn

InternalExile121 karma

Does that mean there no longer is a backup computer available, or can you switch back to the original (with limited functionality?) should the need arise?

CuriosityMarsRover289 karma

We mapped out the bad memory, so it's available as a backup again. -tn

ChronicSilence54 karma

So after switching to the back-up, did you manage to get the original computer working again? i.e., can you use the original as a back-up now, in case the back-up fails?

CuriosityMarsRover94 karma

Yes, we checked out the backup and she's good to go. -tn

CuriosityMarsRover150 karma

Lots of them - Landing night, the computer reboot several days after launch, just getting a design together to launch and Sol 200's anomaly. -tn

CuriosityMarsRover136 karma

For me it was getting ready for launch - I worked on the Cruise ops team before getting to support Surface and that was the first big deadline where we had to be ready or miss the opportunity for another 2 years! EH

CuriosityMarsRover129 karma

For me, waiting for the MastCam picture of material in the scoop from our first drill hole in the John Klein rock in Yellowknife Bay was pretty intense. We had already gotten the telemetry back from the Drill and had a sense that it had gone well but there was no substitute for actually seeing the picture of the acquired drill sample. - LJ

Spartyos244 karma

To people who claim space exploration is a waste of time and money, what would you say to them to change their minds?

CuriosityMarsRover383 karma

I would say that the space program spurs much technological advancement that benefits humankind. Miniaturization of electronics has been helpful for medical devices that can be implanted into bodies or for arthroscopic surgery, satellites in orbit that support your cell phone or weather forecasts are two easy spin-offs that help all of us. Also we can answer some fundamental questions about whether we are alone in the universe! - SM

CuriosityMarsRover296 karma

Fascinating results or pictures of beautiful scenery can provide a sense of excitement, awe, and wonder in the public, making them more interested in learning about "how things work" and could encourage more young people to be interested in science and engineering, causing some of them to change career paths. This is important because science and technological innovation are critical to our economic prosperity and national security. Results from space missions can provide positive news that makes us proud of what humankind has accomplished, and shows the world that we’re still interested in exploring new frontiers and learning more about how the Universe works. The Curiosity mission has contributions from 8 other countries (Spain, Russia, France, Canada, Germany, Finland, Mexico, Switzerland) and joint efforts like this can help bolster international cooperation. (JC)

abrandnewuser195 karma

what do you all think of the Sarcastic Rover on twitter?

CuriosityMarsRover317 karma

Anything that gains public interest for Space Exploration programs is good in my book! I just hope people take it for what it is and go to some of the NASA websites to fact check and learn a bit more about the details. - MR

CuriosityMarsRover189 karma

Sometimes crude for me but I found it humorous and thought it helped bring attention to the science and discoveries Curiosity was actually making which I appreciated. I haven't been on twitter as much lately...has he kept the funny? He also did some great interviews with one of our rover planners, Matt Heverly EH

Valkes189 karma

I'm a computer science major. How can I become a professional send things into space. . .r? Also, you're all awesome. <3

CuriosityMarsRover222 karma

Do internships. Do what you love and never give up. More on the JPL education page: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/education/internships/ --CM

CuriosityMarsRover130 karma

Apply for a job. -tn

Brohimian167 karma

You have a lot of interesting titles. Would you mind quickly explaining what your roles are in simple terms?

CuriosityMarsRover239 karma

Let me take a crack at it:

Joy Crisp, MSL Deputy Project Scientist - Leads science team to determine what activities we can do on Mars to answer the most important scientific questions.

Megan Richardson, Mechanisms Downlink Engineer - She reviews the data from the driving and mechanical activities each day on Mars and makes sure everything is healthy.

Louise Jandura, Sampling System Chief Engineer She was the lead designer of the entire sampling system. This includes the arm and the turret (where the instruments are)

Tracy Neilson, MER and MSL Fault Protection Designer She thinks about all of the bad things that can happen on an autonomous vehicle and designs the software and hardware to keep the rover safe if they happen

Jennifer Trosper, MSL Deputy Project Manager leads team, responsible for overall project

Elizabeth Dewell, Tactical Mission Manager Leads the team who reviews data and designs commands each day

Erisa Hines, Mobility Testing Lead Tests new software capabilities that help the rover drive more efficiently - JHT

Greebs144 karma

What all do you hope to observe by getting Curiosity to the top of mount sharp?

CuriosityMarsRover264 karma

It is doubtful Curiosity will make it all the way to the top of Mount Sharp, although it would be great if it did. What we're really hoping for is to drive up the rock layers near the lower flank of Mount Sharp to look for clues to what the past environment was like and how environmental conditions changed with time from older rocks at the base to younger rocks higher up. (JC)

CuriosityMarsRover139 karma

All the sedimentary rock layers--CM

CuriosityMarsRover122 karma

We'll also likely spend a decent amount at the base of the mountain and working our way up through the layers

Xeans133 karma

What's the most interesting thing that the rover has found on the surface so far? Interesting scientifically or in just a "Oh, cool" sense.

CuriosityMarsRover236 karma

We found so many different rock types in the small area we have driven, which we found cool. Also confirmed that streams once flowed in Gale Crater, and that the streams were fresh water that could possibly have supported life. - SM

karimmaster101109 karma

Which programing language you used to program curiosity?

CuriosityMarsRover153 karma

Most of it is written in C and VXWorks. We also have many ground software tools to analyze the data written in a variety of languages. -MR

corpsmoderne106 karma

Is there a single piece of hardware you wish every single sol you had onboard the rover?

CuriosityMarsRover204 karma

Another MMRTG to give us more energy! -tn

CuriosityMarsRover223 karma

A huge antenna to allow us to communicate directly to earth with the additional energy from our other MMRTG --JHT

Nykk182 karma

How does it feel seeing Curiosity still alive after one year? How long will it work?

Love your work, keep it up!

CuriosityMarsRover170 karma

Relief! -tn aka fault protection engineer

CuriosityMarsRover110 karma

The prime mission is two Earth years (which equal one Mars year) but if the rover stays in good health you can expect a much longer mission. Spirit and Opportunity had prime missions of 90 days and Oppy is still going strong after 9 years, so imagine the possibilities! Curiosity's nuclear battery will give it power for many more years. - VM

CuriosityMarsRover86 karma

Have to keep pinching myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. This is a complicated rover - we're fortunate that it's still "going strong"! (JC)

CuriosityMarsRover72 karma

It feels great! I never get tired of seeing the hardware work on Mars. - LJ

JacksonBollox77 karma

OK. In a perfect world, with a sane Congress. And an Unlimited Budget.

What would your team build? And for what purpose?

CuriosityMarsRover122 karma

Where is this Utopia you describe? I would love to see more robot explorers visiting all of the large planetary bodies of interest in our solar system and take that knowledge to explore the hard to access places here on Earth! - MR

dsm4ck77 karma

how many of you played with LEGO growing up?

CuriosityMarsRover89 karma

Legos were one of my favorite toys when I was growing up. I also really liked playing with blocks! - LJ

CuriosityMarsRover79 karma

All but 3 of us played with LEGOs growing up. I had a suitcase full of them (!) (JC)

xosmlp71 karma

[deleted]

CuriosityMarsRover157 karma

Read scifi and watch scifi movies....and roast coffee beans. (JC)

CuriosityMarsRover104 karma

Work in my garden, make quilts, umpire field hockey, play field hockey and softball. MR and I play softball on a team with Bobak. - LJ

CuriosityMarsRover100 karma

Sports, Traveling and Photography are my favorites! - MR

CuriosityMarsRover99 karma

Spend time with family, kids, veg out--CM

CuriosityMarsRover34 karma

I do theater at CalTech, religious activities, and there's a lot of outdoor opportunities like hiking, biking, and surfing. EH

aguycalledjack64 karma

[deleted]

CuriosityMarsRover116 karma

I am on Curiosity mission operations. In the beginning of the mission my average day involved setting my alarm clock 40 min later each day so I could stay on Curiosity's schedule.

Now, we are on more of a normal schedule. I come into mission ops each morning to take a look at all of the data as it comes down. I analyze the data to understand the health of the rover mechanisms. The team uses this information to plan the next days activities. When I'm done assessments for the day I typically work in the testbed with Curiosity's twin testing new software updates. -MR

CuriosityMarsRover68 karma

For me, it depends on what deadlines are ahead. I'm helping with testing new software so it's a combination of long days in the Mars Yard running tests on our test rover; or preparing presentations and documents to describe any changes we'd like to make, the new capabilities we're adding, etc. We're still testing on some weekends. EH

kayray59 karma

No question, just a huge thank you for everything you do. I can't believe it's been almost a year; it seems like a month ago I was watching the landing and those first thrilling press conferences on my laptop. Even now when I watch footage of the safe landing celebrations I get all choked up.

Thank you!

CuriosityMarsRover96 karma

Funny, it chokes me up to see that folks actually watched us. Did you know the Olympics were going on at the same time? ;-) -tn

LastInitial58 karma

What's the easiest way for a motivated electrical engineering graduate, with experience in avionics, to get your job?

CuriosityMarsRover84 karma

You should try and get a summer internship at JPL if possible to get to know people and what jobs might be good for you. You can also contact the human resources department via the jpl website and get an interview. - JHT

Lillemanden50 karma

Do you still make Space Odyssey jokes or can even that get old?

CuriosityMarsRover92 karma

never NEVER gets old. After a cruise anomaly there was a creepy HAL poster floating around the office... EH

parrycm48 karma

What is the most common degree between all of you guys?

CuriosityMarsRover86 karma

Mechanical Engineering seems to be the majority in the room but we have a scientist and some communications majors too!--CM

BiggieAndTheMets43 karma

Do you guys ever have dance parties? If so, what are some of your classic jams to groove to?

CuriosityMarsRover84 karma

Yes! I was a part of the Drill Testing Team and when we were working night shifts there were occasional dance parties. Every day I'm shufflin' was one of our favorites. Also the Call me maybe mash-up of the rover is worth checking out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Av2H9IlP4e4 - MR

Willypissybumbum40 karma

How is Bobak doing?

CuriosityMarsRover58 karma

Bobak is a busy guy! and is doing well, thanks for asking--CM

CuriosityMarsRover20 karma

He's headed to dc the end of the month...see if you can catch a glimpse. - JHT

McWilliamshire39 karma

Thanks for doing this!

What would you say is the most limiting factor in what you are able to do with the rover?

CuriosityMarsRover68 karma

Every sol, we are limited by time (between uplink pass and afternoon decisional UHF pass), data volume for critical data downlink, and power. Usually, complexity is the largest factor in what we are able to do on a given sol. - ED.

daclamp37 karma

Do you ever get sad when you think about Curiosity being all by himself up there?

CuriosityMarsRover123 karma

Sometimes I'm jealous. -tn

KDLasswell35 karma

What are the future plans for the Curiosity Rover after the mission is over? Will you assign it something else to do or just keep the mission going until it dies or what?

Also, How far away is Curiosity from other rovers? I think it would be really cool to see a selfie of Curiosity with Spirit or Opportunity or something else in the background.

Happy almost one year, guys! I've got it marked on my calendar! You have done an incredible job with this and you are inspiring tons of people to learn more about what's beyond earth with your incredible discoveries and pictures.

CuriosityMarsRover54 karma

We plan to operate Curiosity as long as it continues to be healthy. Even though the prime missions ends next July, we expect it to operate much longer just like the Opportunity rover. So we will continue to drive and take samples just like we do now for as long as possible. - JHT

CuriosityMarsRover47 karma

self

To answer one of your other questions, you can view the landing site locations of the various Mars rovers on the map of Mars available at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA11432. Note that Curiosity landed at Gale Crater and, although it looks like that is relatively close to the Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit (but not Opportunity), they are still hundreds of miles apart. Too far to visit! CB

impreprex32 karma

Good morning, MSL team!

As an image processor, I have some questions regarding the cameras and raw images:

  • Are images screened before they are put up on the web or are they transferred directly to the NASA/JPL site? I ask because I see sometimes that NavCam images will arrive the same day they are taken, but MastCam and MAHLI images seem to be delayed by a day or more (I do understand there is a priority with images and data).

  • (A big one for me): Is it possible, and if so, are you planning on filming a video (raw frames) of the Martian landscape using the NavCam while the rover moves?

  • Will we be taking a drive near the EDL landing site(s)?

  • Also: How in the world are we going to get past that sand that is right before Mount Sharp?

Thanks!

Edit - Reddit: If you would like to see my work, you can go to this subreddit:

http://www.reddit.com/r/curiosityimages

CuriosityMarsRover49 karma

Raw images are posted as they come down to this page: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/ no screening necessary. They are there for the world to enjoy. NavCams are needed to drive regularly and they come back daily. MastCams and MAHLI are based on a science desire/need, so those are more infrequent but stunning! Right now we stop to take pics, no driving and filming. Could be a possibility for future. We are going to look for best route to Mt. Sharp before crossing over to the other side. Still a way to go but very exciting.--CM

SharkBaitDLS31 karma

If you were sitting at a dinner table with some friends and had to tell "that one story" about working with the rover, what would it be?

CuriosityMarsRover57 karma

I would probably talk about my first training shift with Curiosity's twin. I was so happy to go home having spent my work day driving the rover around the JPL Mars Yard! - MR

CuriosityMarsRover33 karma

The stories of the anomalies are always the most dramatic. Curiosity Sol 200 where we had a hardware failure and had to swap computers. Spirit Sol 18 where we had a software problem that causes us to lose contact for several days. And Pathfinder when we didn't get the signal back after 90 sols. These are all scary because we were on earth waiting for the rovers to talk to us and either they didn't or they were confused...And then we have to figure out what to do and hope we have the right tool in our toolkit to fix the problem...- JHT

colorcollector31 karma

What are your favorite colors?

CuriosityMarsRover151 karma

Martian Red -MR

JulesLovesKSP29 karma

What is the biggest thing you want to find on mars?

CuriosityMarsRover69 karma

Well there are large features on Mars such as long canyons and extinct volcanoes. If you mean most important thing we wish to find, we want to know if life ever arose on Mars and if life has arisen elsewhere in our solar system or universe. - SM

roadtrip-ne29 karma

How awseome is it to work on this project? I assume very.

CuriosityMarsRover96 karma

Totally awesome. Early in the mission when we were working operations on Mars time there were times when I would be getting up in the middle of the night and see the little tiny dot that is Mars in the sky. Then I would drive to work and see Mars close up through images from Curiosity. It still fills me with awe.

CuriosityMarsRover83 karma

All the awesome. -CO

CuriosityMarsRover65 karma

Words can't describe it - MR

YourBracesHaveHairs27 karma

Will there be more pics from Curiosity?

CuriosityMarsRover65 karma

Yes! In fact, you can view all the raw images the rover sends back at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/?s= CB

CuriosityMarsRover40 karma

You bet! Many more pics to come on the road to Mount Sharp. Here's a link to the raw image gallery: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/ -CO

CuriosityMarsRover34 karma

In the next month or so we're going to take some self-portraints - specifically of the wheels to see check them out after all of the driving recently. - JHT

ruotwocone26 karma

First I wanted to say congrats! My question is, how is it that your whole team is female? Was it happenstance or intentional?

CuriosityMarsRover59 karma

This AMA was scheduled to selected for female engineers/scientists. It's probably 30 or 40% female on the project. - ED.

raforther24 karma

So, how about Martian nighttime photography?

CuriosityMarsRover43 karma

We have taken nighttime images of Mars moons transit of Phobos and Deimos! - ED.

CuriosityMarsRover34 karma

We have taken a few photos at night. The MAHLI camera on the robotic arm has LED lights and even a UV light. Here is one that we took.
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/news/msl20130124.html - SM

BT_Uytya22 karma

Greetings from Russia! Things like Curiosity make me glad that I was born in a 21 century. You are awesome.

So, you are living on a 24.5-hour day cycle for a while now. Any interesting side-effects concerning you and your families?

CuriosityMarsRover25 karma

We did Mars Time for 3 months! I actually enjoyed it, but am glad that it was just for a short time. I definitely learned all of the good place to eat after hours! - MR

behemuthm20 karma

First off congrats!!! I cried when you guys celebrated the landing; probably one of the most amazing moments for me. Quick question: do you have plans to launch similar rovers on other planets/moons? Would a rover survive on Europa?

CuriosityMarsRover33 karma

No plans at the moment. It wouldn't be impossible, but quite difficult to build a rover that could survive on Europa. (JC)

toxic18118 karma

How did you ensure that absolutely none of the components of the mars rover had any traces of bacteria, or living organic material, before sending it to mars. Or, can you never be sure of this?

CuriosityMarsRover20 karma

There is an entire group of people dedicated to Planetary Protection and Contamination Control here on lab. We build the flight hardware in a clean room, take test swabs of the hardware after cleaning and bake-outs, at test the swabs to know how clean the hardware is. - MR

_Forgotten18 karma

If mars used to have water on it millions of years ago:

Where did it all go?

Why are we trying to go there now that there isnt any liquid water on it?

CuriosityMarsRover39 karma

We know Mars had liquid water that evaporated over millions of years. The atmosphere was stripped away by the sun and other damaging rays and so could not keep the water there, liquid. But during the time that there was water, perhaps life developed. maybe even in Gale crater. Even if it was millions of years ago and isn't alive now, it would be the first proof of life elsewhere in our solar system. And that would be big news for humankind. - SM

Cornflip16 karma

Were there any lessons learned from previous rovers (specifically, Spirit and Opportunity) that helped you when designing/launching/operating Curiosity? For example, did the dust accumulating on the previous rovers' solar panels factor into the design of Curiosity's power source(s)?

CuriosityMarsRover24 karma

It turns out the based on the Sojourner rover (Mars Pathfinder) we estimated the dust deposition on the solar panel and used that for MER design (Spirit and Opportunity). Fortunately, we learned on MER that the dust would regularly blow off due to dust devils giving us many more "lives" on Mars. That's why both Spirit and Opportunity lasted much longer than the 90 sol design life. For MSL, the MMRTG is best still though because it provides continuous power and latitude on Mars doesn't matter like it did for Spirit and Opportunity . - JHT

CuriosityMarsRover10 karma

Lots of lessons. Solar array switching in cruise, the shutdown and wakeup logic, etc. -tn

nishath514 karma

What next after Curiosity?

CuriosityMarsRover23 karma

Up next is the MAVEN orbiter (heading to Mars later this year): http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/maven/ And lots more to come: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/programmissions/missions/future/ CB

poopmahpants12 karma

What could a young, aspiring astronomer do to influence the future to space exploration? Also, how could the same young, aspiring astronomer get into agencies such as NASA or work at the JPL?

CuriosityMarsRover20 karma

Find a way to make what you do, what you're interested in accessible to the public. Whether it's pictures, stories, animations... without the public support it's difficult to get sufficient funding to do the really awesome science! Any hands on training or projects seem to make a big difference. Take pride in your work. Love what you do. EH

ActionPlanetRobot9 karma

Over the past year, what was one moment that stood out or impacted you the most professionally, in regards to gaining new knowledge or experiences?

edit: clarity.

CuriosityMarsRover18 karma

I think we can all say that landing night was the most monumental event. The shouts of joy and sighs of relief that the rover landed safely exactly where it was supposed to. Now we know that the crazy sky crane works! - SM

Temujin_1238 karma

How important was STEM education at different levels (Jr. High, HS, College) to your gaining interest in your field and working at NASA?

CuriosityMarsRover11 karma

I was able to participate in an Upward Bound Math and Science when in High School that allowed me to participate in science research (marine biology - what I originally planned to study) and prepare me for undergraduate math and physics which was really important. I learned about JPL years later when in grad school (though I grew up knowing about / loving NASA). EH

terealameda7 karma

Hello! I would like to know many kilometers has the Curiosity rover made for the moment, and how many are left?

CuriosityMarsRover11 karma

Curiosity has driven 1.5 kilometers so far-CM

JulesLovesKSP7 karma

Thanks for answering my question! Sorry to ask another but will spirit ever be awoken?

CuriosityMarsRover12 karma

We worked very hard to bring her back, but she has a single-string design, so almost any part failure means she's gone. -tn

CuriosityMarsRover12 karma

Never say never but there are no current plans for this currently.--CM

newtodublin6 karma

No questions basically. Wanted to congratulate you guys (or all girls? Nice!) on this marvelous feat of science. Stay curious, keep rolling!

CuriosityMarsRover7 karma

Thank you!--CM

Akatsiya4 karma

Can I have a job?

iamChrisDornerAMAA3 karma

I am curious about the average age of the Mars Curiosity's Team members.

CuriosityMarsRover4 karma

We have a large range of team members ages. From interns to senior staff members, who are able to provide many lessons learned from previous missions. - ED.

InvisibleBlueUnicorn3 karma

What's the programming language you use to control the rover?

CuriosityMarsRover4 karma

Primarily C and C++ language. - SM