This week Mars: The Secret Science takes a look at the remarkable success that is the Curiosity Rover on Mars.
The car-sized rover has been on the Red Planet since August 6, 2012 and travels around 20 miles every day.
Mile by mile, rock by rock guiding this robot around another planet is no easy task.
The distance means that messages are delayed by between 4 and 24 minutes, depending on where the Earth and Mars are on their orbit around the Sun.
The first task each day is to look at the current images from the rover. Then a controller works out a possible route and the data they have already gathered allows them to model how Curiosity will move across the ground.
This means they can sort of simulate any movements before they order the rover to carry them out. 3d glasses are used so that obstacles like rocks and ridges can be seen clearly and avoided if necessary.
It’s not all computer simulations though, nothing beats seeing how things really work in real life. So literally out the back they have a copy of the rover and mimic the terrain on Mars so they can see how the rover copes.
Mars: The Secret Science – Secret History of a Rover at 9 PM on Science Channel.
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