Saturday, August 4, 2012

Curiosity’s Landing On Mars

The most complicated landing in NASA’s history will take place Monday, August 6 at 1:31am EDT when Curiosity, the 1-ton Mars rover, lands on the red planet.

What are being called “Seven minutes of terror” will be televised live in New York City’s Times Square.

Seven minutes are the window wherein NASA has to bring Curiosity from its 13,000 mph traveling speed down to 1.7 mph for a safe landing from 300 million miles away. At 180 mph, Curiosity will be released via a “sky crane” method with a backpack fitted with retrorockets controlling the descent speed lowering the rover by three nylon cords. Probably one of the most nerve-wracking parts is the uncertainty: because of Mars’ distance it takes 14 minutes for signals from the craft to come to NASA engineers here on earth. 


  1. My wife and I watched the landing this morning. It was thrilling!

    1. Thanks Rich. I watched it as well. I don't think most people realize how complex an engineering accomplishment this was especially when you consider that of 39 Mars missions (by all countries) only 15 have been successful. (By the way, the US success rate has been much better than the average at about 79%).

    2. Hi Ken. We're so used to modern technology that I'm sure most people aren't aware of the complexity. We launched something from Earth, it travelled several million miles through space and landed within 200 meters of the predicted spot. The planning, the control systems and the engineering are breathtaking. The resulting science will be awesome.


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