Mars Curiosity Landing
It is one of the great scientific marvels of our time. Just over a century ago man couldn't even fly, and Monday (Aug. 6/12) at 1:31 in the morning ET, NASA has landed a rover named "Curiosity" on the red planet 567 million km (350M miles) from Earth.
Interestingly enough, we humans (or Earthlings as others call us), actually held parties and get togethers to honor the event like we did for the last episode of M*A*S*H or Cheers. This however is far from the last episode, rather the beginning of a brand new chapter.
THE RED PLANET
Not only did a spacecraft carry Curiosity (the size of a compact car) all those miles for 8 months at speeds in excess of 20,000 km/h, but it fell to Mars, deployed a parachute, from there a gaint jet powered sky crane deployed, and the crane placed the rover on the planet via nylon tethers, cut them and flew away. The speed for dropping the new rover was reduced to approx. 3 km/h. There was no margin for error on this $2.5B project and transmissions sent back and forth take approximately 14 minutes each way. In other words, you can't quickly compensate for any misstep.
The sequence also involved 79 pyrotechnic detonations to release exterior ballast weights, open the parachute, separate the heat shield, detach the back shell, jettison the parachute and various other functions. Incredible, isn't it? The Canadian Space Agency is on board and provided a piece of equipment known as the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer, and if it looks like the dash board of the DeLorean, I'll freak out.
The last rover found a Mars crater that may contain water. It is there that Curiosity is expected to begin, near the foot of a tall mountain rising from the floor of the Gale Crater in the southern hemisphere. Btw, local Mars Time was late afternoon and it's a balmy 10 Fahrenheit. If there's water, then perhaps plant and human life can be sustained and perhaps human missions can be attempted. That is certainly a long way away.
Of course we already know that the atmosphere of Mars is perfectly breathable from having seen the first Total Recall. But NASA wants to do it their way. Space geeks, huh?
There was live streaming of the landing, you can follow Curiosity on Twitter, and there's even a simulator that let's you fly it. Find them all at this link.
To me this is about as exciting as the original moon walk. The following simulation VIDEO is AMAZING. It's long, but the FIRST 4 MINUTES, shows the landing and that is the most fascinating. Enjoy and LEAVE COMMENTS.
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Here is the VIDEO, followed by the very FIRST IMAGES of Mars, sent back from Curiosity.