4-H campers learn about mission to Mars

Published 11:00 am Monday, August 20, 2012

WAKEFIELD—Twenty-five youth and staff members attending camp at the Airfield 4-H Center in Wakefield last week took part in a live web cam forum with NASA to learn more of the historic landing of Mars rover Curiosity.

NASA specialist Lyle Tavernier from Pasadena, Calif., showed a video from November’s takeoff and the landing on Mars on Aug. 8.

Tavernier said a day on Mars lasts 24 hours and 39 minutes and temperatures range from minus 225 degrees to 70 degrees.

“When we send communication to Curiosity, it takes about 20 minutes for it to be received and another 20 to get a reply,” he said.

Part of Curiosity’s mission was to determine whether Mars has ever supported life, learn about the environment and prepare for further human exploration.

Tavernier showed 3-D imagery of Curiosity and how it is outfitted with cameras, detectors and other tools to navigate the planet and analyze the rocks and soil. He said they are expecting the mission to last at least 23 months, which is close to a full Martian year. He also indicated that NASA’s target for a Mars colony is “around the 2030s.”