The American scientific-research automatic station MSL (Mars Science Laboratory), which covered 560 mln km in 9 months, successfully landed on the Red Planet and delivered the NASA controlled self-propelled device Curiosity to Gale crater in August 2012.
"Several years ago we could not even dream of getting there,"--said the head of the program Doug McCuistion,--but now we are facing new possibilities for incredible discoveries." According to specialists, the crater, which is more than 3.5 bln years old, is an optimal place for verification of the hypothesis on the possibility of existence of primitive forms of life, which is the main goal of MSL, at an early or modern stage of its development. The planet's surface is covered with dust, brought by global storms. To find the most interesting area for detailed studies of the surface composition, it is necessary "to look" through particles of small solids. This task is to be implemented by the Russian device DAN (dynamic albedo* of neutrons), worked out at the RAS Institute for Space Research (IKI RAN) and headed by Igor Mitrofanov**, Dr. Sc. (Phys. & Math.). The press-service of the scientific center informed about his mission as a member of Curiosity.
DAN will periodically radiate powerful neutron pulses, which will "X-ray" Mars to the depth of ~1 m. Properties of particles reflected by the flux surface must depend
* Albedo (from Latin albus--white)--description of a reflecting (scattering) capacity of the surface of the material.--Ed.
** See: I. Mitrofanov, "Unlocking Martian Enigmas", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2002.--Ed.
DAN device on board the Marsokhod.
on the presence of hydrogen in the substance, making part of water molecules--the most favorable medium for origin and maintenance of life. According to the data of "neuronography", as pointed out at the press-service, researchers will be able to assess its content in the material and find areas with the highest level of concentration of intoxicating liquor in minerals.
On March 17, 2012, on the interplanetary flight orbit to Mars, when MSL was located at a distance of ~62 mln km from the Earth, there took place the first switching on of the Russian device, successfully functioning for an hour. Now it has to fulfill its important mission on Mars.
According to the data of the press-center, transfer of information from Curiosity to the Earth will be impie-
merited by an orbital satellite Mars Odyssey (NASA), which has been studying the Red Planet for more than 10 years. It must be noted there has been installed a neutron detector HEND on it, made at the same laboratory of cosmic gamma-spectroscopy, RAS Institute for Space Research. Due to it and two American devices GRS and NS, it was established that under the dusty surface of Mars, there are huge layers of water ice. DAN is based on scientific, technical and technological back-log of this project.
The new Russian complex, as pointed out at the press-center, was created by RAS ISR and their Moscow colleagues from the All-Russia Scientific Research Institute of Automatics named after N. Dukhov (neutron generator block), RAS Institute of Mechanical Science named after A. Blagonravov (mathematical model of mechanical structure of the device, testing base in compliance with NASA requirements), RAS Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry named after V. Vernadsky (modelling of geological situation on the route of Marsokhod for optimization of the structure of the device and processing of scientific data) and Joint Institute for Nuclear Studies* near Moscow (mathematical modelling of computing characteristics of the device, participation in working out of its physical diagram).
Several days after landing, Curiosity transmitted to the Earth black-and-white photos of Mars from the place of landing, and then the first 360° color panorama of the crater. The 2-megapixel Mastcam cameras made a photo of the stony surface around the crater and the mountain in its center, which the "curious" device will be studying for the following months.
Specialists suppose that the mobile landing device will be working on the Red Planet for one Martian year--686 days.
* See: A. Sissakian, "Dubna's Worldwide Glory", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2006.--Ed.
According to the materials of the press-service of the RAS Institute for Cosmic Studies
Опубликовано на Порталусе 18 октября 2021 года
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