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Challenges of Getting to Mars: Curiosity’s Seven Minutes of Terror

I thought we couldn’t get more excited about Mars Curiosity’s mission to Mars, but then we saw this popular video about the rover’s “Seven Minutes of Terror” —  the final minutes between entering Mars’ atmosphere and landing on the planet’s surface.

The recently released video outlines exactly how crazy the feat of landing the rover actually is. Named Curiosity, the rover must tear through Mars’ atmosphere, which takes up to seven minutes. However, transmitting a signal to NASA of its progress takes 14 minutes because of the distance between the planets.

“When we first get word that we’ve touched the top of atmosphere the vehicle has been alive or dead for at least seven minutes,” Steltzner said.

In those seven minutes, NASA engineers have set up a complex sequence of procedures that must be followed in order to avoid disaster.

It is truly riveting stuff… the technology, the materials, the planning and all of the external forces must align, with zero margin of error, for curiosity to land safely on the evening of August 5th. “Dare mighty things” indeed.

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