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更新时间:2020-5-8 7:03:43 来源:本站原创 作者:佚名 浏览:

After Safe Landing, Rover Sends Images From Mars

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA followed up its picture-perfect landing of a plutonium-powered rover Sunday night with a picture of the balletic Mars landing — as well as some well-earned self-congratulation about what the accomplishment says about NASA’s ingenuity.


“There are many out in the community who say NASA has lost its way, that we don’t know how to explore — we’ve lost our moxie,” John M. Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s science mission directorate, said at a post-landing news conference, where beaming members of the landing team, all clad in blue polo shirts, crammed in next to the reporters. “I want you to look around tonight, at those folks with the blue shirts and think about what we’ve achieved.”

“很多人说NASA已经迷失了方向,说我们不知道如何探索,还说我们已经失去了勇气,” NASA科学任务指挥署副署长约翰·M·格伦斯菲尔德(John M. Grunsfeld)在探测车着陆后举行的新闻发布会上说。登陆团队成员统一身着蓝色Polo衫,满脸含笑,紧挨着记者,出现在会场上。“今晚我希望你们能朝四周看看,看看那些穿蓝衬衫的工作人员,想想我们取得的成就。”

That achievement, in the early hours of Monday morning Eastern time, was indeed dramatic: with the eyes of the world watching, the car-size craft called Curiosity was lowered at the end of 25-foot cables from a hovering rocket stage, successfully touching down on a gravelly Martian plain.


For the world of science, it was the second slam-dunk this summer — the first one being the announcement last month that the Higgs boson, a long-sought particle theorized by physicists, had likely been found. But while the focus of high-energy physics world has shifted overseas to CERN, the European laboratory, the United States remains the center of the universe for space, ahead of Russia, Europe and China, and for NASA, it was a chance to parry accusations of being slow, bloated and rudderless.

在科学界,这是今夏的第二项重大成就。第一项是上个月科学家宣布有可能发现了希格斯玻色子(Higgs boson)。希格斯玻色子是物理学家在理论上提出的一种粒子。长期以来,科学家们一直在寻找这种粒子。然而,尽管高能物理学的中心已转移到了欧洲核子研究中心(CERN),美国仍是航天领域的中心,走在俄国、欧洲和中国的前面。对NASA来说,这次成功让它有机会对称其效率低下、骄傲自满以及管理混乱的指责进行反驳。

“If anybody has been harboring doubts about the status of U.S. leadership in space,” John P. Holdren, the president’s science adviser, said at the news conference, “well, there’s a one-ton automobile-size piece of American ingenuity. And it’s sitting on the surface of Mars right now.”

“如果还有人质疑美国在航天领域的领先地位,”美国总统的科学顾问约翰·P·霍德伦(John P. Holdren)在新闻发布会上说道,“那么,我们美国有一台重达一顿、同汽车一般大小的创造发明,现在,正停在火星表面。”

Now that it has reached Mars, Curiosity ushers in a new era of exploration that could turn up evidence that the Red Planet once had the necessary ingredients for life — or might even still harbor life today. Far larger than earlier rovers, Curiosity is packed with the most sophisticated movable laboratory that has ever been sent to another planet. It is to spend at least two years examining rocks within the 96-mile crater it landed in, looking for carbon-based molecules and other evidence that early Mars had conditions friendly for life.


Only one other country, the Soviet Union, has successfully landed anything on Mars, and that spacecraft, Mars 3 in 1971, fell silent shortly after landing. So far, this rover appears to be healthy.


“What’s amazing about it is the miracle of this engineering,” said John P. Grotzinger, the project scientist.

“令人惊叹的是这项工程奇迹,”参与此次项目的科学家约翰·P·格勒青格(John P. Grotzinger)说。

As the spacecraft sped toward its destination on Sunday, the pull of Mars’s gravity accelerating it to more than 13,000 miles per hour, officials tried to tamp down concerns that a crash would entirely derail future plans.


“A failure is a setback,” said Doug McCuistion, the Mars exploration program director. “It’s not a disaster.”

“失败是一种挫折,”火星探测项目负责人道格·麦克奎斯逊(Doug McCuistion)说,“但不是灾难。”

The Curiosity landing seemed particularly risky. Engineers chose not to use the tried-and-true systems used in the six previous successful landings, neither the landing legs of the Viking missions in 1976 nor the cocoons of air bags that cushioned the two rovers that NASA placed on Mars in 2004. Those approaches, they said, would not work for a one-ton vehicle.

“好奇”号的着陆看起来非常有风险。工程师们决定不使用经过此前六次成功登陆检验的系统,也没有使用在1976年的海盗号任务(Viking missions)中使用过的着陆支架。2004年,NASA向火星发射了两个探测车,当时为了缓冲,使用了气囊包裹。这次发射也没有使用这种气囊包裹。

Instead, for the final landing step, they came up with what they called the sky crane maneuver. The rover would be gently winched to the surface from a hovering rocket stage.


As the drama of the landing unfolded, each step proceeded without flaw. The capsule entered the atmosphere at the appointed time, with thrusters guiding it toward the crater. The parachute deployed. Then the rover and rocket stage dropped away from the parachute and began a powered descent toward the surface, and the sky crane maneuver worked as designed.


“Touchdown confirmed,” Allen Chen, an engineer in the control room here, said at 10:32 p.m. Sunday. “We’re safe on Mars.” The room erupted with cheers, hugs, handshakes and high-fives.

“确认着陆,”控制室里的工程师艾伦·陈(Allen Chen)于周日上午10点32分宣布。“我们安全抵达火星了。”屋子里的人们欢呼起来,工作人员纷纷拥抱、握手和击掌庆祝。

Two minutes later, the first image popped onto video screens — a grainy, 64-pixel-by-64-pixel black-and-white image that showed one of the rover’s wheels and the Martian horizon. A few minutes later, a clearer version appeared, then an image from the other side of the rover.


“That’s the shadow of the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars,” Robert Manning, the chief engineer for the project, gushed.

“那是‘好奇’号在火星表面的阴影,”此次项目的总工程师罗伯特·曼宁(Robert Manning)脱口而出。

More photos followed. One image showed the rover’s destination, a three-mile-high mound at the center of the crater informally known as Mount Sharp.

更多照片被传了回来。其中一张显示的是探测车的目的地。那是位于陨石坑中心的一座约4.8千米高的山。非正式的名字叫夏普山(Mount Sharp)。

NASA also released a series of photographs that the rover snapped as it descended, showing the heat shield falling away and later a plume of dust kicked up by the rocket engines.


Over the first week, Curiosity is to deploy its main antenna, raise a mast containing cameras, a rock-vaporizing laser and other instruments, and take its first panoramic shot of its surroundings. NASA will spend the first weeks checking out Curiosity before embarking on the first drive.


The successful landing helps wash away the mission’s troubled beginnings. Originally it was to cost $1.6 billion and was scheduled to launch in fall 2009, but technical hurdles and cost overruns led NASA to wait more than two years for the next time that Mars and Earth lined up in the proper positions. The project’s cost will now be $2.5 billion.


Charles Elachi, director of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which operates Curiosity and many other planetary missions, said it was well worth the money and compared the night’s exhilaration to an adventure movie.

执行了“好奇”号和很多其他行星任务的NASA喷气推进实验室(Jet Propulsion Laboratory)主任查尔斯·叶拉奇(Charles Elachi)说,这些钱花得值,并将当晚的狂喜比作是看了一部冒险大片。

“This movie cost you less than seven bucks per American citizen, and look at the excitement we got,” Dr. Elachi exulted.

“这部影片的成本平均到每个美国人不足七美元,但看看我们从中获得的兴奋,” 叶拉奇博士欣喜地说道。

Even at the late hour, NASA’s Web sites collapsed as throngs of people across the Internet tried to look at the new Mars photos.