AirTalk for August 3, 2012

Curiosity landing on Sunday

Test Rover Aids Preparations in California for Curiosity Rover on Mars

NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Curiosity rover is set to make its landing this Sunday.

This Sunday night at 10:31 pm, the “Curiosity” Mars rover will land on the “Red Planet.” The research project, which has been in the works since April of 2004, marks one of the most sophisticated attempts at learning about our red planetary neighbor.

The instruments which comprise the Curiosity rover are the most advanced we've seen yet, and there are a lot of them. In fact, the rover is equipped with so many instruments that it literally weighs a ton. Never dealing with a rover of this size before, the project team at Jet Propulsion Laboratory had to devise a completely new and unique landing system for Curiosity, which we will finally get to see unveiled in all of its glory on Sunday night.

Scientists hope to use the abundance of data coming back to Earth to determine Mars’ habitability, learn about the planet’s climate and geography, and serve as a precursor to a manned mission sometime in the future.

Will you be staying up this weekend to watch the footage of the landing? How much time and effort went into getting this project off the ground (and back on it again)?

Guest:

John Grotzinger, Project Scientist on the Curiosity team of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror

Experts at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory ( JPL ) share the challenges of Curiosity's rover final 7 minutes to landing on the surface of Mars on the 5th of August,2012


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