The Mars Science Laboratory

Image 1: Computer model of the MSL-Rovers

Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)

On December 14, 2004, NASA released their selection of the scientific payload for the mission “Mars Science Laboratory“ (MSL). The link to the complete news release can be found below.

  • Mars Science Laboratory Mast Camera: Michael Malin, Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS), San Diego, Calif. Mast Camera will perform multi-spectral, stereo imaging at lengths ranging from kilometers to centimeters, and can acquire compressed high-definition video at 10 frames per second without the use of the rover computer.
  • ChemCam: Laser Induced Remote Sensing for Chemistry and Micro-Imaging, Roger Wiens, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, N.M. ChemCam will ablate surface coatings from materials at standoff distances of up to 10 meters and measure elemental composition of underlying rocks and soils.
  • MAHLI: MArs HandLens Imager for the Mars Science Laboratory, Kenneth Edgett, MSSS. MAHLI will image rocks, soil, frost and ice at resolutions 2.4 times better, and with a wider field of view, than the Microscopic Imager on the Mars Exploration Rovers.
  • The Alpha-Particle-X-ray-Spectrometer for Mars Science Laboratory (APXS), Ralf Gellert, Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany. APXS will determine elemental abundance of rocks and soil. APXS will be provided by the Canadian Space Agency.
  • CheMin: An X-ray Diffraction/X-ray Fluorescence (XRD/XRF) instrument for definitive mineralogical analysis in the Analytical Laboratory of MSL, David Blake, NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. CheMin, will identify and quantify all minerals in complex natural samples such as basalts, evaporites and soils, one of the principle objectives of Mars Science Laboratory.
  • msl_rad_lab
    Image 2: Lab Prototype of the RAD
    Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD), Donald Hassler, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo. RAD will characterize the broad spectrum of radiation at the surface of Mars, an essential precursor to human exploration of the planet. RAD will be funded by the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.
  • Mars Descent Imager, Michael Malin, MSSS. The Mars Descent Imager will produce high-resolution color-video imagery of the MSL descent and landing phase, providing geological context information, as well as allowing for precise landing-site determination.
  • Sample Analysis at Mars with an integrated suite consisting of a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer, and a tunable laser spectrometer (SAM), Paul Mahaffy, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. SAM will perform mineral and atmospheric analyses, detect a wide range of organic compounds and perform stable isotope analyses of organics and noble gases.

Kiel’s Contribution

For the “Radiation Assessment Detector“ (RAD) with it’s sensor drafted in Kiel, the Department of Extraterrestrial Physics provided the actual heart of the instrument: a telescope of solid state detectors, a cesium-iodine crystal as a calorimeter, as well as an anticoincidence and a plastic scintillator for detection of neutrons

Background for Particle Measuring with RAD

The job of RAD is the measuring of the quantity and energy of particles passing through the Mars atmosphere and reaching the Mars surface. The radiation exposure for human tissue can be calculated from these measurements with a quality factor Q. Determining the radiation exposure in possible preliminary Mars missions is necessary to determine the protection needed for astronauts