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The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, Curiosity, touched down on the surface of Mars on August 5, 2012. It was built to conduct an investigation of modern and ancient habitable environments. The MSL science payload was specifically assembled to assess habitability and includes a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer and gas analyzer that will search for organic carbon in rocks, regolith fines, and the atmosphere (SAM); an x-ray diffractometer that will determine mineralogical diversity (CheMin); focusable cameras that can image landscapes and rock/regolith textures in natural color (Mastcam, MAHLI); an alpha-particle x-ray spectrometer for in situ determination of rock and soil chemistry (APXS); a laser-induced breakdown spectrometer to remotely sense the chemical composition of rocks and minerals (ChemCam); an active neutron spectrometer designed to search for water in rocks/regolith (DAN); a weather station to measure modern-day environmental variables (REMS); and a sensor designed for continuous monitoring of background solar and cosmic radiation (RAD). This broad and diverse payload, coupled with a rich field site at Gale Crater, already has established the importance of water in shaping the geology and geochemistry around the landing area, addressed long-standing questions regarding Mars' atmospheric composition and evolution, and made serendipitous discoveries not anticipated from orbital data studied prior to landing.

In this talk, an overview of the Curiosity instruments and their science drivers will be discussed with details of the challenges the engineers faced to land the rover at its intended location.

The research described herein was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA, under contract with National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


Dr. Goutam Chattopadhyay

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA.

Dr. Goutam Chattopadhyay is a Principal Engineer/Scientist at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, and a Visiting Professor at the Division of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA. He received the B.E. degree in electronics and telecommunication engineering from the Bengal Engineering College, Calcutta University, Calcutta, India, in 1987, the M.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, in 1994, and the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, in 1999. From 1987 until 1992, he was a Design Engineer with the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Pune, India.

His research interests include microwave, millimeter-, and submillimeter- wave heterodyne and direct detector receivers, frequency sources and mixers in the terahertz region, antennas, SIS mixer technology, direct detector bolometer instruments, high frequency radars, and applications of nanotechnology at terahertz frequencies. He has more than 200 publications in international journals and conferences and holds more than ten patents. Among various awards and honors, he was the recipient of the Best Undergraduate Gold Medal from the University of Calcutta in 1987, the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship Award from the Government of India in 1992, and the IEEE MTT-S Graduate Fellowship Award in 1997. He also received more than 25 NASA technical achievement and new technology invention awards. He is a Fellow of IEEE.