05 August, 2012

The Curiosity Rover: Will You Be Watching The Landing?

Tonight (or tomorrow morning, depending on how you look at it and where you are geographically) Curiosity will be landing on Mars. Its payload has ten times the mass of other rovers sent to the planet, and the goal for the rover is to check if life could or did exist there.

Curiosity, unlike other craft sent up, is capable of testing rock and dirt samples onboard itself; the plutonium power supply is predicted to last for 687 Earth days/one Mars year. Scientific instruments carried by the rover include spectrometers, the Mars Hand Lens Imager (designed to take highly magnified images), the Mast Camera (for taking pictures of the landscape), and the Radiation Assessment Detector.

The news, as you might expect, is causing quite the buzz. The only problem? EDL, or "Entry, Descent, and Landing". It takes several stages for the rover to descend from the atmosphere to the ground and for seven minutes there will be nothing from Curiosity. It may even be longer than that until we on Earth know if it successfully landed (due to the position of two satellites around Mars and the rover's position relative to Earth); if it doesn't reach the planet all in one piece, there will never be a signal at all.

This span of time between entry and landing is (rather aptly) called the 7 Minutes of Terror.

In the words of NASA scientists:

Or if you'd rather not watch a video, this graphic sums up the process:

Detailed animation of what the landing should look like:

If you'd like to find out when the rover will be landing in YOUR timezone, go HERE. You can bet I'll be up in the middle of the night checking the feeds; and speaking of feeds, BoingBoing has a handy list of resources, and I believe that SciShow, MarsCuriosity, and NASA TV will be streaming live about the landing.

Sources of information:

Images found via www.nasa.gov
(If you want more stunning images of Curiosity, check out this photo gallery. )


So, will you be watching?

-----The Golden Eagle


Susan Roebuck said...

Amazing, G.E. You know, over here in Europe the Olympics has been making more news. I'll be watching tomorrow morning and biting my nails in the 7 mins of terror. What a fabulous achievement.

cleemckenzie said...

Seven Minutes of Terror is one heck of a title for a book! Each step we take into space for exploration is amazingly exciting. Your post was so interesting. Thanks.

Rob-bear said...

Science is awesome. The human mind is amazing, when it comes to "putting science to work."

I remember the landing on the moon, too, and other Mars Rovers.

Jamie Gibbs said...

I'll probably miss the landing itself (dang time zones) but I'll look forward to hearing about it :)

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

1:30 Monday morning, I will be asleep, unfortunately, but this does sound exciting. Presumably we will hear stuff through the news (and I suspect you'll blog about it, no?)

the writing pad said...

Thanks for the reminder - I saw a news programme about it and will definitely be watching - just got to work out what time it's happening in the UK (if you see what I mean!) Thanks again for mentioning it and for the brilliant info :-)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'll be checking tomorrow morning - fascinating stuff!

Cally Jackson said...

Wow, I didn't even know about this until now. Fingers crossed those seven minutes go smoothly. I wonder what Curiosity will find? Such a great name!

Ciara said...

Science is so amazing. I'd love to watch with my kiddos, but we won't be up at that time.

Pat Hatt said...

Be fun to watch but 2:30 am is a bit late. I so hope it lands though and those martians finally make themselves known haha

mshatch said...

I will definitely check it out. Very cool and thanks for the links!

Adam said...

havent' heard of this on the news

Carrie Butler said...

Absolutely! I've been so excited for this. :)

Christine Rains said...

That's so cool! Since the landing for my time zone is at 1:30 am, I won't see it live, but I'll find it in the morning when I get up. This is so awesome!

Lynda R Young said...

I didn't actually see the landing but I got a full description of it from my hubby who did. So exciting.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I will definitely like to watch. Seven Minutes of Terror sounds great as a book title.

Paul Tobin said...

This is a real achievement and its on Mars now! This is so good!

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to any and all findings. Wish this hadn't happened during the Olympics... so little news about this.

Seven minutes in heaven..um...terror... that will drive the buggy people buggy! :)

Angelina C. Hansen said...

We got to watch the landing with our astrogeologist friend who contributed to the project. Great fun!

Charles Gramlich said...

we don't get the TV channel it was on but I watched about it online and heard the good news of the landing.

David P. King said...

I've been waiting for this for a while, so you can be bet I'll be watching. Glad I have cable. :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm going to watch the replay, but I'm very exited about the pictures and knowledge that might come from this venture.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I didn't watch the landing, but I'm excited to see the kinds of pictures that this thing beams back to earth.

Old Kitty said...

Just watched it on BBC!!! Wonderful!!! Take care

Anthony said...

Luckily, the rover made it safely. It would have been a PR nightmare if the vehicle had crashed.

The Golden Eagle said...

Susan: It's been the same over here as well. Hope you enjoyed watching it earlier today. :)

Cleemckenzie: It definitely would be!

You're welcome.

Rob-bear: Agreed. :)

I didn't pay as much attention to space programs when Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars, but I do remember watching a documentary about it soon afterwards.

Jamie: I'm sure it's all over the news now!

Jennifer: I actually got up for it at 1:30; I really wanted to know as-it-happened how the landing went.

Probably will once I finish replying to comments here. :)

The writing pad: You're very welcome!

Alex: It is.

Cally: I like the name, too. Goes well with Spirit and Opportunity.

Ciara: I actually got up in the middle of the night to watch the landing. :P

Pat: LOL. Finding some Martians would be an amazing discovery . . .

Mshatch: Anytime!

Adam: The Olympics and other news have rather overshadowed the landing.

Carrie: Same here. :) I had it on my calendar for a couple of months prior to the landing.

Christine: Yup! Did you see the first images from Curiosity? Pretty amazing.

Lynda: Cool. :)

Rachna: I agree. It's a suspenseful title.

The Golden Eagle said...

Paul: Indeed!

Stuart: I know--it's sad to see such a landmark project shoved aside.

LOL. I was watching NASA TV during the landing and it seemed extremely tense in there.

Angelina: I enjoyed watching the landing, too. :)

Charles: Awesome.

David: It was all online, actually, but it's good to hear the cable networks were airing the landing!

Susan: Me, too.

Michael: It was amazing to see the first images of Mars when they came in a few minutes after Curiosity touched down.

Old Kitty: Awesome to hear they reported on the landing!

Anthony: Definitely. I'd hate to think what the response would've been if such an expensive project failed.

Mary Mary said...

I didn't watch it, but my husband is all about these things! Now I'll have to go check and see if it made it's landing...

D.G. Hudson said...

I love this, actually landing something on another Planet, it's the stuff of scifi dreams.

Thanks for the videos!

The Golden Eagle said...

Mary: It did, and everything seemed to go smoothly. :)

D.G.: It certainly makes my SF side happy!

You're welcome.