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08-03-2012, 12:02 PM #1
'Seven minutes of terror,' no margin for error: NASA's Curiosity Rover to Mars 08.06
Seven Minutes of Terror to Precede NASA’s Landing on Mars (sfgate.com)
The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration is aiming to find out whether life forms can survive on Mars. First, they need to pull off a successful landing of a 1-ton rover named Curiosity.
The vehicle, loaded with the most-sophisticated instruments ever used to explore another world, is scheduled to touch down Aug. 6 at about 1:30 a.m. New York time. If successful, the $2.5 billion mission is expected by scientists to return a trove of data on the geology of a planet that’s been shrouded in myth.
The mission may also help reignite an interest in space that’s waned since the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, said Nilton Renno, a mission scientist, bolstering support for U.S. funding for more projects and inspiring a new generation of students to explore the stars.
If you think NBC's delay of Olympic coverage has been excruciating, just try waiting out Curiosity's delay. The rover will slow from 13,000 miles per hour to a soft landing in just seven minutes.
"From the top of the atmosphere, down to the surface, it takes us seven minutes. It takes 14 minutes or so for the signal from the spacecraft to make it to Earth. That's how far Mars is away from us," Adam Steltzner, EDL engineer, explained in a video (below). "So, when we first get word that we've touched the top of the atmosphere, the vehicle has been alive—or dead—on the surface for at least seven minutes."
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISmWAyQxqqs"]Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror - YouTube[/ame]