Why a Sky Crane?
The rover is the biggest thing we’ve put on Mars and traditional landing techniques wouldn’t have worked. So JPL used a very cool (and complicated) way to get it to the surface safely.
Morse Code on the Wheels
The treads of the rover have a special irregular design to help scientists measure distances – they also spell out “JPL” in Morse code, just for fun.
Extreme Off-Road Abilities
NASA can’t call a tow truck if the rover gets stuck, so the wheels and suspension have been designed to climb over obstacles as big as 30 inches high.
Curiosity is Packing a Laser
The rover isn’t expecting trouble, but it’s carrying a laser to blast rock and soil samples to determine what they are made of.
Doubling Up on Mars Missions
There are now two generations of rovers crawling over Mars, with Opportunity, which landed in 2004, and now Curiosity. Mars is becoming a planet of robots!