Next month, NASA’s Curiosity Rover will touch down on Mars, but it isn’t going to be an easy landing. In fact, NASA says that the Curiosity will go through “7 minutes of Terror” during its final descent to the red planet.
NASA has posted a video on Youtube detailing the challenges that the Curiosity will face as it approaches Mars.
“When people look at it, it looks crazy. When we look at it, it looks crazy. It’s the result of reasoned engineering thought… but it still looks crazy.”
Tom Rivellini, another NASA engineer, adds:
“We’ve got literally seven minutes to get from the top of the atmosphere to the surface of Mars, going from 13,000 miles an hour to zero… If any one thing doesn’t work just right, it’s game over.”
So here’s how the Mars Curiosity Rover’s landing is going to go down. The capsule will approach Mars traveling at about 13,000 miles an hour. The friction of the atmosphere will slow down the capsule. The reduced speed will trigger an onboard steering system that will carry out the rest of the landing. As the capsule slows down even more as it hurls toward Mars a parachute will be deployed. But this won’t slow down the capsule enough. Mars Curiosity will fire the rockets on its underbelly in order to stop its downward momentum.
The Curiosity will then fire cables to the surface of Mars so that it can pull itself down to the red planet.
The new video has been criticized by some users for being a little over the top. While others are applauding NASA for finally putting some excitement back into space exploration.
Here’s the video “Seven Minutes Of Terror.”
The Mars Curiosity will join two other Rovers on the surface of the red planet. The Rover Opportunity recently sent back a panoramic photo of that Martian landscape.