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 <li><a href="/wiki/display/MSLRADPUB/RAD-Public">RAD on MSL</a></li>
 <li><a href="/wiki/display/MSLRADPUB/Instrument">Instrument</a></li>
 <li><a href="/wiki/display/MSLRADPUB/Science+Overview">Science Overview</a></li>
 <li><a href="/wiki/display/MSLRADPUB/Publications">Publications</a></li>
 <li><a href="/wiki/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=7503912">Talks &amp; Presentations</a></li>
 <li><a href="/wiki/display/MSLRADPUB/News+Highlights">News Highlights</a></li>
 <li><a href="/wiki/display/MSLRADPUB/Images">Gallery</a></li>
 <li><a href="/wiki/display/MSLRADPUB/Team+Area">Team Area</a></li>
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 <div id="mslaside"><span>RAD on MSL</span>
 <li><a href="/wiki/display/MSLRADPUB/RAD-Public" class="selected">About MSL and RAD</a></li>
 <li><a href="/wiki/display/MSLRADPUB/MSL+Science+Payload">MSL Science Payload</a></li>
 <li><a href="/wiki/display/MSLRADPUB/The+RAD+Team">The RAD Team</a></li>

<span>RAD Quick Facts</span>
 <li>Nov 26, 2011</li>
 <li class="subitem">MSL Launched</li>
 <li>Dec 6, 2011</li>
 <li class="subitem">RAD Turned On</li>
 <li>Aug 6, 2012</li>
 <li class="subitem last">MSL Arrives at Mars</li><li>

<span>Related Links</span>
 <li><a href="">MSL @ JPL</a></li>
 <li><a href="">NASA</a></li>

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 <div id="mslcontent"><span class="header">About RAD</span>

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 <span class="caption">The RAD Instrument</span>

The Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) is an investigation to detect and
analyze the most biologically hazardous energetic particle radiation on the
Martian surface as part of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. It will
make the first-ever direct radiation measurements on the surface of Mars,
detecting galactic cosmic rays, solar energetic particles, secondary neutrons,
and other secondary particles created both in the atmosphere and in the Martian
regolith. The radiation environment on Mars is a key life-limiting factor that
directly affects habitability and the ability to sustain life, and poses a
challenge for future human explorers on the red planet. Thus, RAD measurements
will aid planning for future human exploration and give us a direct measure of
what levels of radiation to expect when we send astronauts to Mars in the future. 

The RAD instrument combines charged- and neutral-particle detection capability
over a wide dynamic range in a compact, low-mass, low-power instrument. These
capabilities are required in order to measure all the important components of
the radiation environment.
<span class="header">About MSL</span>

Mars Science Laboratory is intended to be the first planetary mission to use
precision landing techniques, steering itself toward the Martian surface
similar to the way the space shuttle controls its entry through the Earth's
upper atmosphere. In this way, the spacecraft will fly to a desired location
above the surface of Mars before deploying its parachute for the final landing.
As currently envisioned, in the final minutes before touchdown, the spacecraft
will activate its parachute and retro rockets before lowering the rover package
to the surface on a tether (similar to the way a skycrane helicopter moves a
large object). This landing method will enable the rover to land in an area 20
to 40 kilometers (12 to 24 miles) long, about the size of a small crater or
wide canyon and three to five times smaller than previous landing zones on
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 <img style="width:42.5em;display:block;" src="/wiki/download/attachments/7503922/rover.jpg?version=1&modificationDate=1467235079381&api=v2">
 <span class="caption">Curiosity at JPL</span>
Like the Mars Exploration rovers (MER) now on the surface of Mars, Mars Science Laboratory will
have six wheels and cameras mounted on a mast. It will
carry a laser for vaporizing a thin layer from the surface of a rock and
analyzing the elemental composition of the underlying materials. It will be
able to collect rock and soil samples and distribute them to on-board test
chambers for chemical analysis. Its design includes a suite of scientific
instruments for identifying organic compounds such as proteins, amino acids,
and other acids and bases that attach themselves to carbon backbones and are
essential to life as we know it. It can also identify features such as
atmospheric gases that may be associated with biological activity. Of course, it will also measure the radiation environment on the surface of Mars to assess the affect of radiation on habitability as well as aid planning for future human exploration, as discussed above.
NASA selected a landing site on the basis of highly detailed images sent to
Earth by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, in addition to data from earlier
missions. The rover will carry a radioisotope power system that generates
electricity from the heat of plutonium's radioactive decay. This power source
gives the mission an operating lifespan on Mars' surface of a full martian year
(687 Earth days) or more while also providing significantly greater mobility
and operational flexibility, enhanced science payload capability, and
exploration of a much larger range of latitudes and altitudes than was possible
on previous missions to Mars.
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 <span class="caption">Location of Curiosity relative to other Mars missions</span>
Curiosity will land in a flat region of Gale crater which is situated on the
rim of the Southern highlands, i.e., on the border of the highlands to the
Northern basin. In its center Gale crater contains a large mound which is
layered. These layers (stratigraphy) appear to have been deposited
sequentially, possibly as sediments. The lowest layers contain minerals which
on Earth are only known to form in the presence of liquid water. As one
proceeds higher up through these layers, their origin appears to be drier and
drier. Thus Gale crater offers a chronology of Mars which only needs to be read
by MSL. It dates from early (Noachian) possibly wet Mars through middle-age
(Hesperian) to modern (Amazonian) Mars. It may contain the key to understanding
what went wrong in the history of Mars, why Mars is today so dry. Do the 'wet'
deposits contain signs of life on Mars in the distant past? Are there other
signs of life, possibly even in more recent deposits? MSL will be able to
answer these questions.
<div id="mslfooter"><span>Southwest Research Institute</span></div>   <div id="mslupdate"><span>Updated: 6 Jul 2012&nbsp;</span>  </div>  </div>  </body>