NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Rover, named Curiosity, is set to land on Mars on August 5, 2012 at 10:31 PM PST.
An artist’s conception of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, named Curiosty, on Mars. Curiosity is equipped with a Raman spectrometer, which consists of a laser beam that enables it to discern the chemical composition of the targeted area.
NASA has recently tightened Curiosity’s landing ellipse to put it closer to the science objective, which is a large uplift structure (mountain) called Aeolis Mons (Mount Sharp) in the center of Gale Crater.
Mars Science Laboratory’s landing ellipse has been tightened to place the rover closer to the science objective—Mount Sharp, which is a layered mountain near the center of Gale Crater
Gale Crater is 154 km (96 mi) in diameter and is located in the Aeolis quadrangle at 5.4°S 137.8°E (see map).
The grippers are made from a rubber balloon filled with coffee grounds. The coffee grounds are a granular medium (made from grains… small solid pieces), and when one removes the air the coffee grains pack together and become extremely rigid, which is a process called granular jamming. This enables the gripper to grasp and hold on to objects of any shape. The jamming transition is considered to be a new type of phase transition similar to the glass transition that occurs when liquid glass is cooled.
What is amazing to me is that by rapidly forcing air back into the balloon, the gripper expels the object—basically throwing it! It is pretty amazing to see such a simple gripper throwing a ball or even darts!