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Landing ellipse

In the image below, the white circles define the landing zone (known as a landing ellipse) inside Gale Crater. The rover's navigation system will need to be able to handle the type of terrain found here:
Curiosity's landing ellipse. Image: NASA/JPL
How will we know if Curiosity has landed safely on the surface of Mars? First let's review how we are going to talk to Curiosity in order to transmit data back and fourth.

Communication

This 2 minute video covers the communication basics:
Khan Academy video wrapper
Once we land, how will Curiosity get around?

Remote navigation

60-second video of vehicle operation from millions of miles away:
Khan Academy video wrapper

Mars yard tests

Engineers test Curiosity's hill-climbing capabilities using her Earthbound twin:
Khan Academy video wrapper

Desert test drive

NASA engineers take the Curiosity test rover to California's Mojave desert to learn how to drive on Martian sand dunes.
Khan Academy video wrapper

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  • hopper cool style avatar for user Maria
    Now, everyone knows that there is sign of water on mars but no one know if there is water on mars, and I heard there is a planet that is made of ice
    (4 votes)
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    • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user RoboLord
      I know this question was posted a few months ago, but just an update: NASA released a statement at the end of September, 2015 that the MRO satellite has detected what they believe confirmatory evidence of liquid water on the surface of Mars (essentially dark streaks through the soil that come and go with the seasons).
      There are several icy bodies within our solar system; the best candidates for study and future habitation would be Jupiter's moons, Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa, which all show evidence of containing water ice on their surface. Each of those moons is also believed to have sub-surface oceans, which may be comprised of salty water.
      (15 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user John Brown
    Have any Humans landed on mars ?
    (4 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Aidan
    How does Curiosity handle with the temperature?
    (3 votes)
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  • female robot grace style avatar for user Supershirley
    In the third video on this document, why did the engineers wear those cables over their shoulders and follow Curiousity's "Stunt Double"?
    (1 vote)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user matthew burgos
      I would assume that the cables are for power and data to be able to simulate everything without having to use the thermometric generator. They are carrying the lines to ensure that the drag behind it isn't affecting the rovers operation considering it won't have that on the real lander.
      (2 votes)
  • purple pi teal style avatar for user Naomi Scott
    have space rovers ever drilled holes in mars if so how deep?
    (1 vote)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user andrewp9548
    why can't the rovers go fast?
    (1 vote)
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    • leaf blue style avatar for user Reed
      It would be too dangerous. It takes at least 7 minutes for the radio signal from Earth to reach Mars, and another 7 minutes for the signals to travel back. If a rover operator saw a rock in the way of the rover while it was going fast, by the time the signal to drive around the rock reached the rover, it would have already crashed into the rock.
      (1 vote)
  • leaf red style avatar for user SebG
    What are the wheels of a mars rover like Curiosity made of?
    (1 vote)
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  • hopper cool style avatar for user Yeon Su
    Why can't we make it fast but with improvements in suspensions?
    (1 vote)
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    • leaf red style avatar for user SebG
      Making a rover fast would mean that we might oversee boulders, get stuck in soft dune sand or might miss areas of particular interest in Mars exploration, therefore it is much safer making a slow, robust rover.
      (1 vote)
  • hopper happy style avatar for user Kimberly.
    Why did they land in Martian Dunes?
    (1 vote)
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    • starky sapling style avatar for user Vivin Kannan
      They landed in the Gale Crater which is a scientific point of interest and it so happens to be because its a crater. They are trying to find IF life was supported not if life could exist there now. Underneath dunes are rocks and the rock layers are what we are interested in. They have been preserved for lots of years, untouched and we want to know if there is "Organics". These are the evidence that Microbial life did exist on Mars.
      (1 vote)
  • piceratops seed style avatar for user wendy1009521
    what is in mars center
    (1 vote)
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    • starky tree style avatar for user Emese Toth
      Scientists aren't sure, but they do theorize that the center may be liquid. This is unlike our own, which is a solid, metal interior surrounded by a layer of molten metal. It is, of course, important to note that both cores contain similar elements.
      (1 vote)