Monday, December 08, 2008

Mars Science Laboratory delayed to 2011

NASA plans for further exploration of Mars have suffered a blow with the announcement that their Mars Science Laboratory mission has been delayed due to overruns on the technical development of the rover. With a massive payload 10 times the weight of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, the mission is extremely ambitious, but problems with the 31 actuators that control the steering mechanism, drill and robotic arm are been blamed on the delay. Because missions need to be launched every 26 months when Earth and Mars are their optimum positions, the sensible decision was taken to allow the launch date to slip rather than try to rush the process of perfecting the actuators. More on this story at the LA Times.