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In which Hank celebrates the landing of the Mars Curiosity Rover, which, if you were following SciShow on Twitter, you know was pretty freaking cool. So here are the Top Five Coolest Things about the Mars Curiosity Rover!
Hank Green: It's official: the first pictures are here. The Mars science laboratory has landed, and it is functioning and I'm out of my mind with excitement. We've had a lot of tools studying Mars before from the original Viking missions of the 1970s through Pathfinder, Surveyor, and the exceptionally long lived twin team of Spirit and Opportunity. But the Curiosity rover is far beyond anything we've ever had on the surface of the Red Planet, so let's go through the top five coolest things about the Mars Curiosity Rover.

Number five, it's big. About the size of a Mini Cooper, it makes the Mars Pathfinder rover look like a matchbox car. This size allows it to travel farther, overcome larger obstacles, pack in a scientific payload ten times more massive than Spirit or Opportunity, operate for longer, and carry a much more substantial source of power, which leads me to...

Number four, it's nuclear. Though not nuclear like a submarine, the Curiosity Rover is plutonium powered, but not fission powered. The electricity comes from the natural decay of plutonium-238, which produces heat. That heat is used to both keep the rovers instruments warm and to produce electricity. This will keep the rover operating day and night for at least one full Martian year, or 687 days.

Number three, Easter eggs. I like it when a scientific team can have a bit of fun. The wheels of the Curiosity Rover are designed to increase friction, but also to leave a pattern in the soil to allow engineers to accurately determine the distance that the rover has traveled. The pattern, of course, could be anything, but the engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory made it into dots and dashes spelling out 'JPL' in Morse code.

Number two, frickin' laser beams. The ChemCam suite of instruments is designed to vaporize small amounts of rock from as far as seven meters away, and then determine what minerals that rock is made of. But that is just one of the dozens of scientific instruments on the Curiosity Rover that will study everything from the amount of radiation on the surface to local weather to atmospheric and solid organics to a 3D high definition camera that will give us unprecedented clarity of the Martian surface both in pictures and in video.

And finally, number one, it's our best chance yet of finding life off Earth. The landing site of the Mars science laboratory was chosen to be the bottom of a crater at the foot of a mountain. Now how this mountain formed is a mystery, but this is an exceptionally good place to look for life, because signs indicate that water once flowed down that mountain and into the landing area. The clays of this alluvial plain are particularly good at latching onto and protecting organic compounds which could include telltale signs of life. The crater even appears to have mineral layers that were deposited by water, potentially indicating that Gale crater was once a lakebed. This was a carefully chosen spot and over the next two years and hopefully beyond that, Curiosity will have a chance to travel this unique area of Mars and offers us our best chance yet of finding extraterrestrial life.

After thirty nine missions to the Red Planet, 24 of which have failed, today is a tremendous success for the scientific community and for humanity at large and for me, at least, this makes the next two years of life on Earth significantly more interesting.

Thanks for watching and caring and being excited, and if you want to keep getting smarter with us, go to and subscribe.