25 Nov '11, 11am

How NASA's Curiosity Rover Will Land on Mars

How NASA's Curiosity Rover Will Land on Mars

This week, NASA gave its launch team the go-ahead to continue working towards liftoff of the Mars Science Laboratory, also known as the Curiosity rover , tomorrow, Saturday, November 26. So if things go according to plan, an Atlas V rocket will blast into space carrying NASA's bigger and more capable new rover, the beginning of a 570-million-kilometer journey to the Red Planet. The trip will take nearly nine months and likely involve lots of challenges. But today I want to bring your attention to one part of the mission that I find fascinating, and a bit scary: getting the rover on the surface of Mars. Or as the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers call it, "entry, descent, and landing," or EDL. Curiosity's predecessors, Spirit and Opportunity, the size of golf carts, landed on "air bags" dropped from a descent craft. The new rover, however, is too big and heavy for th...

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/aerospace/robotic-expl...

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