Discovered in 1913 by William and Lawrence Bragg, x-ray crystallography is a technique that reveals the atomic and molecular structure of a crystal. When a narrow beam of x-rays is shown through the crystal, it diffracts into a pattern of rays through the other side.
"To date 28 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to projects related to the field" and 100 years after its discovery, the Curiosity Rover is using x-ray crystallography to analyze soil on Mars.
Want to see what it looked like for Curiosity as it hurtled toward the surface of Mars? After the heat shield separates, the car-sized rover, still protected by its back shell, continued to fall quickly toward Mars by parachute, until it separated from the back shell and began its powered descent and touchdown (via sky crane) to the ground.
Using footage provided by NASA, Reddit user Godd2 just spent the last four days on behalf of all humankind creating a stunning interpolated HD version of the descent. In layman’s terms interpolation involves taking a choppy video, in this case NASA’s 4 frames-per-second video, and rendering the “missing” frames in between resulting in an incredibly smooth 25 frames-per-second video.
Compared to the more suspenseful Seven Minutes of Terror video, this one is rather majestic, and inspires awe in a completely different way.
Get a behind the scenes look a the tension, anticipation and exhilaration experienced by scientists and engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. during the Curiosity rover’s harrowing descent through the Martian atmosphere — known as “Seven Minutes of Terror.” News of Curiosity’s safe touchdown following the 13-thousand-to-zero-mile-an-hour descent to the Red Planet’s surface brought elation and high-fives all around. Curiosity begins a two-year investigation of whether Mars is or ever was capable of supporting microbial life.
SCIENCE! Watching Mars Curiosity land last night was *extremely* exciting, but it was just as exciting to share it with the kid this morning.
We watched two videos: the one above focuses on the team at JPL and the one below also shows the animated simulation (which feels just slightly off from the action in the control room, but perhaps better illustrates for kids what’s going on).
Of 13 previous attempts to land space probes on the Red Planet over the past four decades, nearly half failed or immediately lost contact.
Those odds are enough to make tonight’s scheduled landing of NASA’s new rover, Curiosity, a tense, hold-your-breath moment. But the space agency’s plan to use a hovering, rocket-powered “sky crane” to lower the $2.5 billion, nuclear-powered robot 60 feet or so to the Martian surface almost guarantees it will be a suspenseful night at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
Just to complicate things, the rover’s rapid-fire descent and landing is entirely automated. With more than 150 million miles separating Earth and Mars, round-trip communications between Curiosity and its far-off human overseers would take nearly half an hour.
"Curiosity is on its own through all this," says NPR science correspondent Joe Palca, who is monitoring the Mars mission in Pasadena. "Earth is too far away help if things go wrong."
The communications lag is also why we won’t know whether the rover has successfully landed until 1:31 a.m. ET on Monday, even though landfall is actually scheduled for 14 minutes earlier, at 1:17 a.m. ET.