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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics


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    Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover Wins 2013 AIAA Foundation Award of Excellence
    Honored for Significant Accomplishment in Space Exploration and Inspiring Global Fascination with Space

    March 5, 2013 – Reston, Va. – The 2013 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation’s Award for Excellence has been won by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity Rover team. The award will be presented on May 8 at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, in Washington, D.C.

    The team is being honored “for significant accomplishment in space exploration, inspiring global fascination with space.”

    “I am pleased to present the 2013 AIAA Foundation Award for Excellence to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity Rover Team,” stated Dr. Mark Lewis, chairman, AIAA Foundation. “Curiosity” stands one of the greatest achievements in the annals of America’s exploration of space. There is little doubt that the rover has captivated the world, from its exciting and innovative descent to the Martian surface, to its highly sophisticated array of scientific instruments, to its unique power and thermal systems, Curiosity stands at the pinnacle of robotic exploration technology.”

    “We are honored to have the Curiosity mission receive the AIAA's prestigious Foundation Award for Excellence,” stated Dr. Charles Elachi, director, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “This team of engineers and scientists dared a mighty thing, which was achieved because of their passion for and commitment to excellence. We thank AIAA's for this recognition, which we accept on behalf of JPL, NASA and the entire nation.”

    The MSL/Curiosity mission was made possible by the innovation and outstanding technical prowess of the NASA JP MSL/Curiosity team. Through their work and dedication, the mission featured numerous firsts, including the first robotic guided entry onto another planet, which autonomously varied the angle of attack to the atmosphere to slow the capsule from its 13,000 mph entry speed to 1,000 mph; the deployment – at roughly Mach 2 – of the largest supersonic parachute ever developed; the use of an innovative “skycrane” system to gently lower the payload to the surface, and the use of a radioisotope thermal generation system to produce power and protect the instrument suite from temperatures that can reach –150º C at night.

    The MSL/Curiosity mission has already produced outstanding scientific data, in particular by finding evidence that water once existed in rocks found in Gale Crater. Moreover, MSL/Curiosity has established a solid technological framework for future exploratory missions to Mars and other planetary bodies.

    The AIAA Foundation Award for Excellence was established in 1998 to recognize unique contributions and extraordinary accomplishments by organizations or individuals.

    The AIAA Foundation seeks to “make it exciting, make it empowering, and make it fun.” That simple, compelling philosophy drives the Foundation’s commitment to math, science, and technology education. The AIAA Foundation offers a wealth of resources to support educators from K–12 through university: scholarships, classroom grants, design competitions, and student conferences, improving scientific literacy and advancing the arts and sciences of aerospace. For more information on the AIAA Foundation and its programs for students, teachers, and professionals, please visit .


    AIAA is the world’s largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession. With more than 35,000 individual members worldwide, and 100 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit



    American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
    1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Suite 500, Reston, VA 20191-4344
    Phone: 703.264.7558 Fax: 703.264.7551