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NASA's Mars Rover Curiosity: Historic Landing

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http://www.facebook.com/ScienceReason ... NASA's Mars Mission: Weather on Mars looks great for huge rover landing tonight at Gale Crater on Mars: NASA's one-ton, nuclear-powered Mars Science Laboratory "Curiosity" will land on the red planet tonight. --- Please subscribe to Science & Reason: • http://www.youtube.com/Best0fSciencehttp://www.youtube.com/ScienceTVhttp://www.youtube.com/FFreeThinkerhttp://www.youtube.com/RationalHumanism --- With Mars looming ever larger in front of it, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft and its Curiosity rover are in the final stages of preparing for entry, descent and landing on the Red Planet at 10:31 p.m. PDT Aug. 5 (1:31 a.m. EDT Aug. 6, 5:31 a.m. UTC Aug. 6, 6:31 a.m. BST Aug. 6, 7:31 a.m. CEST Aug. 6). Curiosity remains in good health with all systems operating as expected. Today, the flight team uplinked and confirmed commands to make minor corrections to the spacecraft's navigation reference point parameters. This afternoon, as part of the onboard sequence of autonomous activities leading to the landing, catalyst bed heaters are being turned on to prepare the eight Mars Lander Engines that are part of MSL's descent propulsion system. As of 2:25 p.m. PDT (5:25 p.m. EDT), MSL was approximately 261,000 miles (420,039 kilometers) from Mars, closing in at a little more than 8,000 mph (about 3,600 meters per second). • http://www.nasa.gov/ --- The gravitational tug of Mars is now pulling NASA's car-size geochemistry laboratory, Curiosity, in for a suspenseful landing in less than 12 hours. "After flying more than eight months and 350 million miles since launch, the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft is now right on target to fly through the eye of the needle that is our target at the top of the Mars atmosphere," said Mission Manager Arthur Amador of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The spacecraft is healthy and on course for delivering the mission's Curiosity rover close to a Martian mountain at 10:31 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5 PDT (1:31 a.m. Monday, Aug. 6 EDT). That's the time a signal confirming safe landing could reach Earth, give or take about a minute for the spacecraft's adjustments to sense changeable atmospheric conditions. The only way a safe-landing confirmation can arrive during that first opportunity is via a relay by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. Curiosity will not be communicating directly with Earth as it lands, because Earth will set beneath the Martian horizon from Curiosity's perspective about two minutes before the landing. "We are expecting Odyssey to relay good news," said Steve Sell of the JPL engineering team that developed and tested the mission's complicated "sky crane" landing system. "That moment has been more than eight years in the making." A dust storm in southern Mars being monitored by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter appears to be dissipating. "Mars is cooperating by providing good weather for landing," said JPL's Ashwin Vasavada, deputy project scientist for Curiosity. Curiosity was approaching Mars at about 8,000 mph (about 3,600 meters per second) Saturday morning. By the time the spacecraft hits the top of Mars' atmosphere, about seven minutes before touchdown, gravity will accelerate it to about 13,200 mph (5,900 meters per second). NASA plans to use Curiosity to investigate whether the study area has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, including chemical ingredients for life. "In the first few weeks after landing, we will be ramping up science activities gradually as we complete a series of checkouts and we gain practice at operating this complex robot in Martian conditions," said JPL's Richard Cook, deputy project manager for Curiosity. The first Mars pictures expected from Curiosity are reduced-resolution fisheye black-and-white images received either in the first few minutes after touchdown or more than two hours later. Higher resolution and color images from other cameras could come later in the first week. Plans call for Curiosity to deploy a directional antenna on the first day after landing and raise the camera mast on the second day. The big hurdle is landing. Under some possible scenarios, Curiosity could land safely, but temporary communication difficulties could delay for hours or even days any confirmation that the rover has survived landing. The prime mission lasts a full Martian year, which is nearly two Earth years. During that period, researchers plan to drive Curiosity partway up a mountain informally called Mount Sharp. Observations from orbit have identified exposures there of clay and sulfate minerals that formed in wet environments. • http://www.nasa.gov/mars --- Tags: curiosity mars rover nasa science laboratory landing mission project spacecraft odyssey reconnaissance orbiter spirit frist pictures videos gale crater surface crash atmosphere red planet .
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Landing will take place the night of August 5th, 1:30 AM eastern, 10:30 pm pacific, and 6:30 AM GMT (August 6th.) NASA will be streaming live here: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html And we'll be live-tweeting here: http://www.twitter.com/scishow The Mars Science Laboratory or Curiosity Rover is the largest payload ever delivered to the surface of a planet and it has a terrifyingly complicated descent and landing strategy. First, the atmosphere takes it from 13,000 mph to 2,000 mph. Then a parachute takes it down to 200 mph. The final, powered-descent stage lowers the craft to 21 feet above the surface, at which point it will be lowered by a tether and the rockets will detach and crash land elsewhere. If the Curiosity survives it's descent to Mars, it will be the most robust scientific tool to ever explore another planet. The size of a small car, the craft has a planned mission length of two years, during which time it could travel over 12 miles. Curiosity's goals are to study the geology and climate of Mars, to determine whether there was once life there, and to prepare for future human exploration of the Red Planet.
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EDITOR'S NOTE: In the days after this video was posted, the Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars. You can read all about it here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=nasa-msl-curiosity&WT.mc_id=SA_sciamerican_meta On August 5th (or 6th, depending on your time zone) NASA plans to land the Curiosity rover on Mars. First, they'll have to overcome incredible speeds and the Martian atmosphere. Scientific American editor John Matson explains how. -- WATCH more Instant Egghead: http://goo.gl/CkXwKj SUBSCRIBE to our channel: http://goo.gl/fmoXZ VISIT ScientificAmerican.com for the latest science news:http://goo.gl/lHq0CH
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Rob Manning of the Curiosity team describes the feats of engineering required to land the Mars rover safely. Watch NOVA's "Ultimate Mars Challenge" this fall on PBS.
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Soar over the crater on Mars that will be the landing site for NASA's Curiosity rover.
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This animation shows key events of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission Curiosity rover, which will launch in late 2011 and land on Mars in August 2012.
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This artist's concept animation depicts key events of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, which will launch in late 2011 and land a rover, Curiosity, on Mars in August 2012. Release Date: 4 April 2011 Credit: NASA JPL Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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