He may be “Lightning” Bolt, but Curiosity, the buggy now beginning its two-year mission on Mars, draws its power from 10.6 pounds of plutonium dioxide.
In a week dominated by the Olympics, it has taken a successful mission to the Red Plant, capped by what NASA officials earlier described as “seven minutes of sheer terror” to grab some headlines. The successful, if tricky landing means a 6-legged, unmanned rover packed with science gear might soon be able to offer hints as to whether life once grabbed a tenuous foothold on Mars.
Dubbed Curiosity, it is the most sophisticated in a line of rovers that date back to the days of the Apollo era when astronauts on a series of moon landings were able to extend their range with the help of a lunar equivalent to the dune buggy.
How do the various rovers compare?