Time has come to focus on Mars!
It is now just a matter of days before Curiosity will set down on Mars and begin a two-year prime mission to investigate one of the most intriguing places on Mars.
We await the landing with great anticipation, but getting the Curiosity rover to the surface of Mars will not be easy.
Curiosity, the car-size, one-ton rover is bound for arrival on Mars the evening of Aug. 5, 2012, PDT (early Aug. 6, EDT and Universal Time).
This artist concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover. Image credit: NASA
Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror
"The Curiosity landing is the hardest NASA mission ever attempted in the history of robotic planetary exploration,"
said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
"While the challenge is great, the team's skill and determination give me high confidence in a successful landing."
To achieve the precision needed for landing safely inside Gale Crater, the spacecraft will fly like a wing in the upper atmosphere instead of dropping like a rock.
To land the 1-ton rover, an airbag method used on previous Mars rovers will not work.
Mission engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., designed a "sky crane" method for the final several seconds of the flight.
A backpack with retro-rockets controlling descent speed will lower the rover on three nylon cords just before touchdown.
The area where NASA's Curiosity rover will land on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT) has a geological diversity that scientists are eager to investigate, a
s seen in this false-color map
based on data from NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU
During a critical period lasting only about seven minutes, the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft carrying Curiosity must decelerate from about
13,200 mph (about 5,900 meters per second) to allow the rover to land on the surface at about 1.7 mph (three-fourths of a meter per second).
"Those seven minutes are the most challenging part of this entire mission," said Pete Theisinger, the mission's project manager at JPL.
"For the landing to succeed, hundreds of events will need to go right, many with split-second timing and all controlled autonomously by the spacecraft. We've done all we can think of to succeed.
We expect to get Curiosity safely onto the ground, but there is no guarantee. The risks are real."
Team members share the challenges of Curiosity's final minutes to landing on the surface of Mars.
Click on image to enlarge
Artist's concept of Mars Science Laboratory entry, descent and landing. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Curiosity is not a life detection mission. Unlike previous rovers to Mars, Curiosity is a robot chemist seeking evidence of past habitability on Mars.
Curiosity does not have the ability to detect life if it was there. Instead, Curiosity will look for the ingredients of life
According to latest reports from NASA, "the flight team continues to monitor the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft's telemetry and track its trajectory."
Later today, July 28, the spacecraft is scheduled to perform its fourth and smallest trajectory correction maneuver, which will mark the beginning of
MSL's final approach to Mars.
There will be many ways to watch NASA's live coverage of the Mars landing of Curiosity. Coverage will be on the web at both NASA's and JPL web sites.
Watch Mars' Stunning 12-Mile Dust Devil In Action
Dust devils occur on Earth as well as on Mars.
They are spinning columns of air, made visible by the dust they pull off the ground.
Unlike a tornado, a dust devil typically forms on a clear day when the ground is heated by the sun, warming
the air just above the ground. As heated air near the surface rises quickly through a small
pocket of cooler air above it, the air may begin to rotate, if conditions are just right.
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Shockwaves Could Crinkle Space-Time Creating A New Kind Of Singularity
Mathematicians have discovered a new way to crinkle up the fabric of space-time, at least in theory.
"We show that space-time cannot be locally flat at a point where two shock waves collide," said Blake Temple, professor of mathematics at UC Davis.
"This is a new kind of singularity in general relativity."
Watching Volcanoes On Alien Worlds
Volcanoes display the awesome power of nature like few other events.
Now that astronomers are finding rocky worlds
orbiting distant stars, they're asking the next logical questions: Do any of those worlds have volcanoes? And if so, could we detect them?
A new study reveals that parts of Mars may have been modified by liquid water in recent geologic times, which might indicate more
favourable conditions for life on the planet.
The surface of Mars displays a diverse landscape, and a new study shows that large areas of the northern hemisphere have undergone
a number of freeze-thaw cycles.
Craters made by asteroid impacts may be the best place to look for signs of life on other planets, a study suggests.
Tiny organisms have been discovered thriving deep underneath a site in the US where an asteroid crashed some 35 million years ago.
Light From Distant Alien World Seen For The First Time
It's the most alien world we can only imagine and for the first time a space-based infrared telescope - Spitzer Space Telescope -
has detected light emanating from a "super-Earth" located in this system and orbiting a bright star, known as 55 Cancri, in a mere 18 hours.
"Polar Regions Of Earth Lit Up Like A Christmas Tree"
Solar Max is due in the year 2013. NASA scientists make analysis of recent solar activity. and say that it's still more to come.
When solar maximum arrives, the peak of 11-year sunspot cycle will bring more solar flares, more coronal mass ejections,
more geomagnetic storms and more auroras...
Would you like to live forever? What do you think about the idea that your conscious mind will be uploaded into a hologram?
How far should scientists go in their quest for
Theses are just some of the many questions that concern Project Avatar 2045.
Next Magnetic Pole Reversal Is Underway - Scientists Say
A new study indicates that there is a possible connection between the Earth's inner core and a magnetic reversal.
The magnetic field reverses direction every few thousand years. If it happened now, we would be exposed to solar winds capable of knocking
out global communications and power grids...
Intense Blue Lightning On Saturn Visible From Space In Broad Daylight!
To see a thunderstorm from space on another planet is not an event that you will experience often, which is the reason why
these images, taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft are truly impressive.
Photographed from a distance of over two million miles, Cassini captured the largest storm seen up-close at the planet,
Head Of An Elephant Photographed On Mars
It is an incredible sight. This image taken by NASA clearly shows a large elephant head stretching across the surface of Mars.
The image was taken near the Elysium Planitia sector, a Martian plain that exhibits some of the youngest lava flows on the Red Planet's surface..
The elephant in the photo is actually the remnants of a large lava flow that occurred sometime within the last 100 million years...