The biggest and most technically advanced rover to date is scheduled to land on Mars this Sunday, August 5, at approximately 10:30 pm PDT. The Astro Bulletin below, from the Museum's Science Bulletins program, follows Curiosity as it leaves the launching pad on Cape Canaveral and begins its journey to the red planet. Equipped with more gear than the two previous rovers combined, Curiosity is designed to collect and process samples and then distribute them to testing chambers inside scientific instruments carried onboard. Test results and images of Mars's surface will be transmitted to NASA through radio relays via Mars orbiters.
To see a model of the Curiosity rover, visit Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration before it closes on August 12.
A key evolutionary innovation of dinosaurs is that they walk with a fully erect posture, holding their hind legs vertically under their hips. What else makes a dinosaur a dinosaur? Learn how scientists define this group of reptiles in the first video from the AMNH.tv series "Dinosaurs Explained."
Mark Norell, who is chair of the Museum's Division of Paleontology, works on numerous areas of specimen-based and theoretical research. Learn about Dr. Norell's dinosaur research and fieldwork by watching the video below.
The Museum is home to the largest collection of spiders in the world, one that is still growing through the fieldwork of scientists such as Norman Platnick, Curator Emeritus in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology. Platnick, who has discovered and described more than 1,600 new spider species, says there are many more to find.
“Collections are the only way we can document the plants and animals with which we share this planet,” says Platnick. “For groups that are as poorly known as spiders, there are many areas in the world where they have not been collected at all.”
One of his recent collecting efforts, in late 2010, took Platnick and his team on a month-long expedition into the cloud forests of northeastern Ecuador. Science Bulletins, the Museum’s multimedia program that covers current science, followed the researchers as they worked day and night seeking out spiders from the forest floor to the high canopy.