An artist’s impression of Curosity rover on the surface of Mars (image: NASA)
In just over five days time NASA will attempt to land the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars. Weighing in at nearly 900 kg, and with a size similar to a Mini cooper, Curiosity is significantly larger than either of the Mars Explorations Rovers. Curiosity is designed to investigate whether conditions on Mars have ever been favourable for microbial life. To undertake this task it carries an extensive instrument payload. A highly innovative precision landing system is being used to deposit Curiosity safely onto the surface of Mars. It takes just seven minutes from the time the entry capsule arrives at the top of the thin Martian atmosphere to the time Curiosity touches down on the red planet.
Now, NASA videos tend to be very serious and worthy productions, but can often be a bit on the dull side. However, this does not apply to ”Seven minutes of terror” which describes in dramatic detail the procedures that are required to land Curiosity. After watching this video you will know why NASA engineers must already be feeling a little nervous about how things will work out in just under a week from now.
The Curiosity rover being deposited on the Martian surface (image: NASA)