“Our JPL team is thrilled to have accomplished this critical radar field test at Dryden,” said Steven Lee, MSL’s Guidance, Navigation, and Control Systems manager.
“The large, flat expanse of Rogers Dry Lake provided an ideal venue for our initial tests.
Continuing analysis of the geometry and communications options for the arrival at Mars have led planners for the Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity, to choose an Earth-to-Mars trajectory that schedules launch between Nov. However, the direct-to-Earth option allows a communication rate equivalent to only about 1 bit per second, while the relay option allows about 8,000 bits or more per second.
Landing on Mars is always difficult, with success uncertain.
After an unsuccessful attempted Mars landing in 1999 without definitive information on the cause of the mishap, NASA put a high priority on communication during subsequent Mars landings.