The Mars landing isn’t an easy feat, even if you’re NASA; the car-sized Curiosity roverch is on its way to fulfilling the two year $2.5 billion project it embarked on: finding out whether Mars has, or had at any time in its existence, life forms.
The rover has been traveling 8 months and a half, over 350 million miles, and it’s now just two days away from landing, or as NASA likes to call it: the seven minutes of terror. As I was telling you in a previous post, NASA likes to give suggestive nicknames to operations – and suggestive it is. Skimming the top of the Martian atmosphere at 13,000 mph, the Curiosity rover needs to brake to a stop — in no more than seven minutes. If this doesn’t work, then the whole mission is compromised.
All tests indicated the landing will go down smoothly, but NASA engineers are still terrified by the landing. If it survives the land, which will take place two days from now, at 1:17 a.m. EDT Monday, it will be able to use its 10 fancy pieces of equipment, which include a rock zapping laser, a high tech camera, a chemistry lab, and many more.