Alex Knapp, Forbes Staff
I write about the future of science, technology, and culture.
8/02/2012 @ 12:51AM |5.681 views
The Mars probe Curiosity is set for a safe landing 1:31 AM Eastern Time on Monday, August 6. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL)
Last November, the Mars probe Curiosity began its months-long journey to the red planet. But that journey is soon to end, as NASA says that things arelooking great for the probe’s landing after a planned course correction made afew days ago. Although all systems are go, there’s almost certainly some stress at NASA right now. Because here’s the thing – communicating to Mars is a 14 minute round trip. It takes 7 minutes for the signal to go from Earth to Mars and back again. That means that Curiosity‘s landing is completely automated. And that landing is only going to take seven minutes. Meaning that by the time NASA gets word that the rover has started its descent, the result of that landing will already have happened. You can check out just what’s involved in the graphic above.
The landing itself will be broadcast in real time (okay, on a 7 minute speed-of-light delay, but that’s still better than NBC’s Olympicscoverage.) You’ll be able to catch it on NASA TV if your cable provider hosts it, or you can catch the live stream here. NASA will also be hosting a live streaming Google+ hangouthere.
If you want complete information about Curiosity and NASA’s website doesn’t have enough for you, I’d highly recommend checking out GetCurious.com. The website is the product of a collaboration between Explore Mars, United Launch Alliance (ULA), National Geographic, AeroJet and Phillips & Company. The site itself is full of information, videos, pictures and more. They also have some pretty snazzy merchandise (they were kind enough to send me a t-shirt and some wristbands). The site also has information aboutCuriosity landing parties. Check it out and see if there’s one in your town – you shouldn’t watch the landing by yourself if you don’t have to. And keep coming back to the site for the duration of the Curiosity mission, as it will continue to be updated.
“The potential knowledge we could gain from Curiosity’s exploration is tremendous,” Explore Mars Executive Director Chris Carberry said in a GetCurious.com press release. “We have an opportunity to learn if life once could have existed or could still exist on Mars. A successful MSL mission will also move us one step closer to the goal of putting humans on Mars by 2030.”
Even Ford is getting into the excitement over Curiosity. For folks who like to comparison shop off-road vehicles, they’ve even produced this handy guide to show the difference between the Martian rover and a Ford F-150 Raptor. They’ve also put together a much more detailed infographic that you can view here, which is highly worth reading.
Last but not least, though, NASA’s put together its own fantastic video for the event. The video describes the mission of Curiosity and its harrowing 7 minute descent. Best of all, it’s narrated by the great William Shatner. While you wait for Curiosity to land and get your party set up, you can check it out below.
the above article was published in Forbes on August 1, 2012