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Anyone else going to be watching the landing of the new Mars rover, Curiosity?
It’s easier on the West Coast. Landing is supposed to be 1:31 am EDT.
If you haven’t been reading up on Curiosity, it is a massive (2000 lb) vehicle that has to be landed in an atmosphere only 1% as dense as Earth atmosphere. That means you can’t slow it enough for a chute and shock-absorber landing and you can’t carry enough fuel for a rocket-decelerated landing.
NASA came up with a complex and ballsy series of entry-descent-landing (EDL) steps worthy of a sci-fi movie. It all has to be fully automated, because it currently takes 14 minutes for a signal to travel from Mars to Earth.
Infographic of EDL sequence here:
Dramatic video about the EDL sequence here:
Watch coverage of the event on NASA TV (some cable services carry it): http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/ustream.html
Keep an eye on the control room at JPL here, if you prefer raw camera feed: http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2
Raw images from Curiosity, when and if available, will appear here: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/
Wish it luck!