Crisa delivers an environmental station for “Curiosity”, NASA’s new Mars exploration rover

Landed on Mars on August 6th, rover Curiosity carries 10 scientific instruments on board. One of them is an environmental monitoring station developed by Crisa.

This image shows a mosaic made of images acquired on August 7th where several sensors of REMS can be seen: one of the two wind sensors below, the ultraviolet sensor in the middle and part of the pressure sensor on top. ©NASA/JPL-Caltech


The instrument, called REMS (Rover Environmental Monitoring Station), is delivering daily reports about the atmospheric conditions of the region where the rover is. For this purpose, REMS has an Instrument Control Unit and several sensors distributed around the vehicle to measure parameters like atmospheric pressure, air’s relative humidity, the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation, speed and direction of the wind and the temperature of the air and the surface.

Graphical representation of REMS measurements on August 28th. ©CAB

REMS final goal is to allow a deep study about the meteorological conditions and a characterization of its climate. The result of this study, along with the study of the geology of Mars, will help defining and planning possible human exploration missions in the future.

Integration of REMS instrument on board Curiosity in the spacecraft assembly room at NASA’s Jet Propuilsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

The development of REMS is part of a bilateral collaboration agreement between NASA and Spain trough CDTI (Centre for Industrial and Technological Development) and INTA (National Aerospace Technology Institute). Its design has been lead by Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA), being Crisa the prime contractor and leader of a consortium including institutions like the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña, Institute for Physical High Technology Jena (Germany), Aurelia SpA (Italy), Alter Technology (Spain), the Microelectronics Institute of Sevilla and Carlos III University in Madrid.

The objective of Curiosity is to characterize the climate and the geology of Mars, assess if life ever existed on its surface and to set a technological basis for potential future human exploration missions. For these objectives, the vehicle will travel about 200 metres every day for at least one Martian year, 687 Earth days. It is equipped with three cameras, four spectrometers, two radiation detectors, one atmospheric sensor and an environmental station.