NASA’s Seven Minutes of Terror: Curiosity’s precarious Mars touchdown defined (video)
Edited and scored with the dramatic rigidity of a summer time blockbuster trailer, NASA’s put collectively a gripping brief clip that clothes down Curiosity’s mission to Mars for the layman. The “automotive-sized” rover, set to landing on August fifth of this yr at 10:31PM PDT, is at present journeying in the direction of the Purple Planet on a suicide mission of types, with the success of its make it or break it EDL (enter, descent, touchdown) wracking the nerves of our Area Company’s biggest minds prematurely. Their trigger for concern? A interval of radio silence, dubbed the “seven minutes of terror” for the period of time it takes a sign to succeed in Earth, throughout which the craft may have already both smashed disastrously into the Martian panorama or nestled completely down from the ascend part on a 21ft lengthy tether. The logistics concerned are so quite a few and vulnerable to error — slowing the craft from thirteen,000 mph to zero mph after which deploying, detaching and avoiding collision with the supersonic parachute for starters — that it is a marvel the federal government ever signed off on the challenge. If all of it does come off and not using a hitch, nevertheless, the women and gents down at Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory definitely deserve a number of thousand bottles of the best bubbly taxpayers’ cash should buy. Click on on previous the break to gape on the sequence of engineering feats required to make this touchdown on terra incognita.