Saturday 4 August 2012

Nail-biting Mars Curiosity robotic rover mission touch-down

A momentous occasion is almost upon us for the intrepid space explorer mission to Mars in the name of NASA's Curiosity. A motor car sized robotic mobility science lab is about to set down on the infamous red planet to, among many things, shed light on whether life has ever existed there.

Curiosity is the most complex and most expensive probe ever sent to a planet mission as can be seen quite literally in the detailed image here.

Added to this complexity is the acutely risque landing procedure that NASA engineers developed. To get to its intended touch down zone, at the foot of a 3 mile high mountain, the descending probe on Monday (GMT) must enter the Martian atmosphere at a precise point. 

The the most dramatic and nail-biting part of the whole shebang begins two hours before it reaches Mars. At that point mission control will stop talking to the probe and the probe's onboard computers are programmed to execute its precise landing manoeuvres. 

Here bellow is a short sixty second animation from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory illustrating the thirteen minutes it takes, to successfully touch down.

The $2.5billion mission is due to touch down at 05:31 GMT (06:31 BST) Monday 6 August; 22:31 PDT, Sunday 5 August.

Should you be interested the Curiosity rover will be live tweeting the entry, descent and landing process via @MarsCuriosity 

Alternatively you may enjoy reading a more detailed news feed of the complete detailed story including more lengthy video's, here.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Next Page