WATCH: Mars Rover Landing
NASA is hosting several public viewings of Curiosity as it touches down on the Red Planet.
Want to touch down on Mars?
Well, you can't. Not yet.
But early Monday morning you can get a feel for what it might look like to land on the Red Planet when NASA broadcasts the landing of the Curiosity Mars Rover across the country.
A lot of people are holding their breath.
Curiosity has been on its way to Mars since Nov. 26, 2011 when it launched from Cape Canaveral.
It will begin to descend into the thin Martian atmosphere Saturday, Aug. 6. About 1:30 a.m. Curiosity will use a new landing method consisting rocket guided entry, parachute descent, more rockets and a “sky crane,” which is as fantastic as it sounds. The shell of the rover will use its rockets to hover above the surface as the science lab is lowered down the surface by an “umbilical cord.”
There’s a lot going on here.
“On a scale of one to 10, landing on Mars is a 20,” according to the narrator in this video on NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory website. “Hundreds of things have to go just right.”
No wonder they call the descent – when the rover speeds through the planet’s thin atmosphere, slowing from 13,000 to 0 mph in a matter of seven minutes – seven minutes of terror.
The terror might be worth it. The rover's mission is to search the Martian landscape for signs of life.
If you want to watch with the rest of the world, there are scheduled viewings across the country. A NASA broadcast will begin Sunday at 11:30 p.m. EST Sunday and the rover should enter the Martian atmosphere at about 1:30 a.m. EST.
The closest public broadcast will be in Greenbelt at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “Mars at Midnight” begins at midnight and runs until 3 a.m. Watch the rover touch down on Mars and talk to scientists and engineers about the mission.