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John Bartlit: Curiosity is an eagle-eyed scout

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A  mighty whirlwind who shed Dorothy and Toto from Kansas to a colorful land far away. Adventures in Oz led Dorothy to see the truth back home more clearly than she had before.   

Mars teaches as smartly as Oz.     

This spring, I heard a popular talk in town on “Exploring Mars with Curiosity and Its Laser,” by Dr. Roger Weins, the project leader for the ChemCam laser that zaps red rocks on Mars to learn about them. 

We saw how the one-ton rover Curiosity is commanded to rove on its six wheels over the red landscape. The fastest it can move is less than 0.1 mph. 

We learned about the 10 instruments on board the rover for probing the Martian environment. The environment has countless parameters we want to know.

Work time on Mars is scarce and costly. The working life of Curiosity’s instruments is limited to two years or possibly as long as five or eight years.
The problem is clear. How should the instruments be designed and utilized so their work time on Mars produces the most data of the most value? 


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