Mars 2012: From Ray Bradbury Landing, Curiosity Takes First Tentative Drive

Written by Gina Smith

Ray Bradbury, the late sci author died in June, is the namesake for the historic Mars Curiosity Landing site. It now is called Bradbury Landing. Also today, 22 Aug 2012, the lander finally started motoring. It’s now 60 feet from landing site and all systems appear fine.

Via Caltech, JPL and Sci fi author Ray Bradbury discussed Mars in 1971, video above.

Today 22 August 2012 the NASA Mars Rover Curiosity finally got a move on. And its landing site from 16 days ago — one for the history books — is renamed Bradbury Landing.NASA reps named it, they say, after the famed late sci fi author and hero to so many of us geeks. Nice touch.

There’s a great Ray Bradbury link here, which lists more than 600 short stories and 27 novels, including his famed series, The Martian Chronicles.

UPDATE:  Curiosity, says reps at JPL, Caltech and NASA say the Mars Curiosity lander/digger/science lab finally rolled forward, turned and reversed from its original landing site on Mars 16 days ago. Here’s what that looked like, below.

Source: NASA August 22, 2012 The Curiosity’s Landing site — now named Bradbury Landing — was vacant for a few hours. The Mars Rover Curiosity took her about 60 feet — rotating, fowarding and retreating on its way there — where she is parked now,

And the landing site, NASA officials say today, has a new name: Bradbury Landing. Its namesake is the late, great sci fi author Ray Bradbury. NASA’s Guy Webster announced it in a blog post on the NASA site. Excerpted below.

NASA has approved the Curiosity science team’s choice to name the landing ground for the influential author, who was born 92 years ago today and died this year. The location where Curiosity touched down is now called Bradbury Landing.

This was not a difficult choice for the science team,” said Michael Meyer, NASA program scientist for Curiosity. “Many of us and millions of other readers were inspired in our lives by stories Ray Bradbury wrote to dream of the possibility of life on Mars.”

Today’s drive confirmed the health of Curiosity’s mobility system and produced the rover’s first wheel tracks on Mars, documented in images taken after the drive. During a news conference today at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., the mission’s lead rover driver, Matt Heverly, showed an animation derived from visualization software used for planning the first drive.

“We have a fully functioning mobility system with lots of amazing exploration ahead,” Heverly said.

Curiosity will spend several more days of working beside Bradbury Landing, performing instrument checks and studying the surroundings, before embarking toward its first driving destination approximately 1,300 feet (400 meters) to the east-southeast.

Curiosity Project Manager Pete Theisinger of JPL told journalists in a status report: Curiosity is a much more complex vehicle than earlier Mars rovers. The testing and characterization activities during the initial weeks of the mission lay important groundwork for operating our precious national resource with appropriate care …. 16 days in, we are making excellent progress.

Work has begun in earnest, NASA reports. Its Mars Curiosity Landing team is now remotely pointing cameras and other measuring instruments to their list of targets to investigate.

BASA reports its cool Chemistry and Camera — aka ChemCam — instrument used laser and spectrometers this week to examine the immediate surface around the initial landing site. It’s checking out rocks first, the ones exposed when the landing craft blew though several inches of Mars soil.

This is intriguing. Roger Weins of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, say initial reports suggest a basaltic composition of sampling. “These may be pieces of basalt within a sedimentary deposit,” Weins told reporters via NASA.

Says NASA:

Curiosity began a two-year prime mission on Mars when the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft delivered the car-size rover to its landing target inside Gale Crater on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The mission will use 10 science instruments on the rover to assess whether the area has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

JPL manages the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

More information about Curiosity is online at: and .

Here are contacts for the spokesman if you’re a journalist seeking future coverage. A wealth of knowledge from this author at NASA, below.
Guy Webster/D.C.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. /
NASA Headquarters, Washington

1 Comment

  • We enjoyed this piece and it was especially fun to “see and hear from” Ray Bradbury. His sense of humor, love of writing, interest in science and ability to laugh at himself made him so believable. May he rest in peace!