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The folks at NASA/JPL posted this amazing video to their YouTube channel today, highlighting the incredible engineering feat it will be to land the Curiosity Rover onto the surface of Mars. Because of Curiosity’s weight and size, the traditional “airbag” method isn’t going to cut it. Instead, Curiosity will be lowered gently to the surface of Mars via a rocket-propelled “skycrane”. It makes the landing even more complex and dangerous, and introduces a whole new level of risk into the landing. But once we get that SUV-sized rover crawling around the surface of Mars, all that risk will be totally worth it.
I’d also like to give NASA kudos in the production design of this feature. It really felt like I was watching a movie trailer, and not some dusty instructional video from a stodgy space agency. If NASA wants to inspire and educate, they hit the nail squarely on the head with this video. Okay, maybe it was a little over the top. I’m waiting to see a cameo from Batman, but still… nice work.