Sometime later today NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will attempt to land the newest Mars Rover, Curiosity. After 253 days and 352 million miles in space, Curiosity will go through an impressive but terrifying landing procedure, and if all goes well will begin its task of spending one Martian year (687 earth days) performing various scientific investigations.
At the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, I saw a recreation of one of the earlier Rovers and I was surprised at how large they are. Even the earlier ones were as tall as I am. Curiosity is larger still, over 7 feet tall and 9 feet wide, and at take-off it weighed almost 9,000 pounds. Here’s a picture of Curiosity.
More information than you probably want or need at the links above. Live conversations with the engineers happen periodically at Ustream. You can bet that I’ll be glued to whatever information sources I can find this evening, with high hopes for a successful landing.