There is about 78 million miles (126 million kilometers) of Earth, alone on the huge and magnified Red Planet, a small size 4×4 size robot wakes up just after the sun. And just as it's every day for the past six years, he's waiting for his instructions.
Around 9:30 pm Mars, a message arrives from California, where it was sent 15 minutes earlier.
"Moving forward 10 meters, turning to a 45 degree assimilation, now turn on your abilities and autonomous driving."
Please put curiosity into the commands, slowly moving to a designated site, at a maximum speed of 35 to 110 meters (yard) per hour.
Its batteries and other configurations limit its daily drive range to about 100 meters. The biggest wonder rolled on March in a day is 220 meters.
Once it arrives, its 17 cameras take pictures of its scope.
Her laser rocks are rocks. Other onboard boarding drills to a special rock are interesting to study small samples.
For about 5 pm, Martian time, he will wait for one of three NASA satellites that outweigh the planet to pass over.
Then curiosity sends hundreds of megabytes of scientific data through a large earth antenna to human masters on Earth.
– Small lab –
On the ground floor of a building 34 at the NASA Goddard Sailing Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, scientists have daily Intelligence data at 1 pm, in a large room without a window full of scientific instruments and computers.
Scientists are looking for any signs of life on the Mars.
Inside Curiosity is a "wonder of miniaturization," said Charles Malespin, deputy chief researcher for Sample Analysis in Mars (SAM), a microwave oven size chemist's laboratory.
"This is the most complex tool NASA has ever sent to another planet," said Malespin, who has devoted his professional life to the project since 2006.
The SAM analyzes samples of Martian soil by heating in an oven that reaches 1,800 Fahrenheit (1,000 Celsius).
The hot rocks release gas, which is separated and analyzed by instruments that offer a "fingerprint" sample.
In Goddard, Maeva Millan, a French post-doctoral researcher, compares these chemical fingerprints to experiments carried out on the known molecules.
When they look like she can say, "Ah, that's the correct molecule."
Thanks to the SAM that researchers know that there are complex organic molecules on the Mars.
And SAM has helped scientists learn that the Martian face – is geological – much younger than a thought of it.
"If you're going to Mars, you do not want to bring things that are already there that you can use for resources," said Malespin, as water.
"If you want to enjoy the soil and heat and release it, you can bring a big oven with you and have all the water you want."
The same is true of different materials that could be used to make rocket fuel, allowing Red Planet to serve as a future service station for rockets.
– No shoes –
On the other side of the United States, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, about two dozen men and women make the Curiosity team driving.
"My favorite part of the day (when I'm) I'll sit down and start looking at the pictures of Mars and to understand where the green is right now," says Frank Hartman, who has sent Elusions and another, late, Opportunity.
"And in my opinion is that this is the first person on Earth, it's probably looking at some of these pictures."
Mars's main driver's job is to write the sequel's orders sequence to follow the next day, or "day" on the Mars, for 24 hours and almost 40 minutes. There is no stick, but no real-time communication with a robotic vehicle.
Delays whenever drivers realize that something has gone out of place, whether it's an opportunity to be buried by a Spanish dust storm earlier this year, or one Curiosity wheels is tracked by a sharp rock.
Or an analysis of Curiosity drilling machine, which occurred at the beginning of this year and took a few months to solve it.
"We have not been to any of these places in the future," said Hartman.
"And so we must always be aware of the fact that we do not know how big we are about."
As years passed, these drivers of scientists are getting involved with their robots. When Opportunity went silent after 14 years of campaigning on Mars, Hartman and colleagues felt a feeling of grief.
Opportunity "retired with honors," said Hartman.
So far, curiosity, which ended in 2012, has traveled over 12 miles (19.75 km). He must wait another year before reaching his goal, Mount Sharp.
Then, a few months later, he will lose his Martian monopoly. Two stones – one American and one European – have arranged to go on the planet in 2020.
© 2018 AFP