Curiosity, the van-sized high-tech rover, is set to land on Mars tonight! The above animation of Curiosity’s mission to Mars is well-worth watching – seriously – all 11 minutes of it. The landing itself looks harrowing – more nail-biting than women’s gymnastics. Go Curiosity!!!
I remember, as a high schooler, the spectacular drama of the Viking missions to Mars. Then the landings, as a planetarium director, of the Sojourner rover – the predecessor of Spirit and Opportunity, the “little rovers that could.” If all goes well around 2:30 a.m. tonight, Curiosity will open a new era of understanding of Mars. If she survives, they should give her an Olympic gold medal.
“The Curiosity Mars Science Lab rover is by far the hardest and most complex robotic mission that NASA has ever attempted. She marks a quantum leap beyond anything tried before in terms of the technology required to land this 2000 pound beast and the science she’ll carry out for a minimum 2 year prime mission…. Curiosity is the first mobile soil and rock sampling and chemistry lab dispatched to Mars. It’s also the first astrobiology mission to Mars since the twin Viking missions of the 1970’s.” Universe Today