NASA BRACES FOR ‘7 MINUTES OF TERROR’ PRE-MARS PLUNGE
doofiegirl BTO-t- BCRA-F ~PWCM~ 2012/08/06 09:32:33
Live video by Ustream (The Blaze/AP) — NASA’s most high-tech Mars rover on Sunday zeroed in on the red planet where it will attempt a tricky celestial gymnastics routine during a “seven minutes of terror” plummet through the atmosphere.
The Curiosity rover was poised to hit the top of the Martian atmosphere at a stunning 13,000 mph. If all goes according to plan, it will be slowly lowered by cables inside a massive crater in the final few seconds.
NASA was ready for the “Super Bowl of planetary exploration,” said Doug McCuistion, head of the Mars exploration program at NASA headquarters.
“We score and win or we don‘t score and we don’t win,” said McCuistion.
If all goes well, mission control at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory should hear a signal at 10:31 p.m. Pacific. The space agency warned that confirmation could take longer if an orbiting spacecraft that’s supposed to listen for Curiosity during the descent is not in the right place.
Curiosity’s trajectory was so accurate that engineers decided to wave off a last chance to tweak its position before atmosphere entry.
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