What Will Curiosity’s “View” Be as it Approaches the Red Planet?

Curiosity made a risky landing that was partly made possible from learning from mistakes, according to a NASA official. Credit: NASA

Imagine if you were tucked away inside the Mars Science Laboratory backshell, just like the Curiosity rover. What would you see as you approached Mars? Bill Dunford from Riding With Robots on the High Frontier wanted to know the same thing. “I was wondering what Mars would look like if you could physically ride along,” he wrote. “If you were somehow onboard the spacecraft that’s carrying the rover, and you had a window to look through, what would you be able to see?”

To find out, he took advantage of NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System website. This amazing tool creates realistic simulated views based on real data, and allows you to travel to any planet, moon or spacecraft across time and space, in 3D and in real time. It is absolutely awesome and very fun to play with! Bill created the video above by using Eyes on the Solar System, which provides a great look at the view approaching Mars.

Then, Bill also used Eyes on the Solar System to follow Curiosity down to the surface and view the landing, which, if all goes well on 10:31 p.m. PDT on August 5th (05:31 UTC on Aug. 6), should look something like this:

Of course, no one will be there on Mars to see it happen, and we won’t know for at least 14 minutes after the fact if it happened successfully. So consider yourself lucky to have this sneak peak!

See more screenshots and information at Riding With Robots, and check out Bill’s one-page “Cheat Sheet” which provides a quick guide to the mission and the landing, with links to all sorts of information.