Science

How the hell is NASA going to get its Curiosity Rover on Mars? #video

Artist's concept depicts the moment that NASA's Curiosity rover touches down onto the Martian surface
Artist's concept depicts the moment that NASA's Curiosity rover touches down onto the Martian surface. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Holy crap NASA, could you have made this any more difficult?

Artist's concept depicts the moment that NASA's Curiosity rover touches down onto the Martian surface
Artist’s concept depicts the moment that NASA’s Curiosity rover touches down onto the Martian surface. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Just in case you thought NASA had gotten boring since it has retired the space shuttle then watch this video showing how the space agency plans on landing Curiosity on Mars (Facebook | @marscuriosity) on August 5.

NASA describes the process of landing its latest Mars Rover, Curiosity, as “a challenge.” And it pretty much is – in what the agency describes as “Seven minutes of Terror” NASA will plunge its Mars Science Laboratory into the Martian atmosphere. After a few minutes it will then eject its heat shield before releasing its parachute (the largest and strongest ever developed by NASA) which will only reduce the craft’s speed from 1,000 MPH to 200 MPH.

Since it will still be travelling at 200 miles per hour the parachute will then be jettisoned and on-board rockets will fire to bring the craft to a complete halt. But it still won’t be on the ground at this point.

Hovering 20 meters above the ground (because the rockets will throw up too much dust) NASA will lower the Curiosity Rover on a tether to the Martian surface. Once the Rover is on the ground the descent stage will fly off to a safe distance away from the rover.

It sounds crazy and even NASA says it is – “Sometimes when we look at it, it looks crazy,” NASA’s Adam Steltzner says, “[but] it is the result of reasoned, engineering thought.”

All this will take place on August 5, 2012.

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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).