All or nothing: the Mars Curiosity landing

NASA's Curosity Mars Rover could usher in a new era of space exploration or set the industry back decades - it all depends on that crucial landing.

The countdown is on and NASA's latest and boldest attempt to uncover the secrets of Mars is about to make its mark on the red planet. 

The high-tech rover Curiosity is set to touchdown at 1530 AEST and NASA engineers will be hoping that Curosity makes a perfect landing. The intricate exercise has been dubbed by the engineers as the "seven minutes of terror". 

"The big trick is you are going 13,000 miles an hour," Adam Steltzner, team leader for the entry, descent and landing of Curiosity told the American Broadcasting Corporation.

"You slam into the Martian atmosphere and you want to gracefully get the spacecraft down sitting quietly on the surface on her wheels, and all of that takes different changes in the configuration of the vehicle, 79 events that must occur." If any of these 79 events backfire then it could cost NASA up to $2.5 billion and drastically set back Mars exploration for some time to come.

So to give you an idea of what’s at stake for today’s landing, here’s an infographic by Space.com to explain the endeavour and spell out just what Curiosity is capable of.

 

 

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