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Mars in a Minute: How Hard is it to Land Curiosity on Mars?

Landing on Mars is hard, and Curiosity’s upcoming and dramatic landing will likely be the most difficult and nail-biting part of the whole mission. This 60-second video from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory shows step-by-step what it takes to touch down successfully.


Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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  • Aqua4U August 1, 2012, 10:42 PM

    GO Curiosity! This mission made me think about the space shuttle, with it’s +/-1,000,000 parts, ALL of which had to work properly in order to fly. That makes Curiosity’s journey look almost like a ‘slam dunk’ in comparison? I just hope the thang doesn’t land on the last living microbe on Mars!

    • Jeff Boerst August 2, 2012, 5:41 PM

      Let’s hope it ends up being more of a ‘dunk’ than a ‘slam’! 😉

      • Aqua4U August 2, 2012, 6:54 PM

        I for one, have been made to feel pretty confident that this thing will work, but dread the implications of a failure. It would be probably be very similar to how the ‘out of focus’ Hubble Space Telescope put some real doubt in NASA’s court?

        By the way… that mirror, was probably accidentally configured to the same specs used for the KH-11’s – that is to say, meant for looking down instead of up… which was never admitted…. Shhhh… be wary, wary quiet…

  • Kevin Frushour August 2, 2012, 6:12 AM

    Thank you. This is a simple, easy video I can post to my Facebook wall explaining why I’m going to be worried on Sunday.

  • David N August 2, 2012, 6:30 AM

    So Exciting cant wait – GOOD LUCK CURIOSITY!!!

  • Tranquility Base August 2, 2012, 4:16 PM

    Neat!! I wrote a blog post adding up Curiosity’s chances of a safe landing, based on the success of past missions:
    http://tranquilitybaseblog.blogspot.com/2012/06/what-are-odds-of-safely-travelling-to.html. Fingers crossed everything goes well Sunday night!