NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation showing the landing procedure for the Mars rover Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory). This rover was launched on 26th November 2011, and touched down on the surface of Mars at 05:32 UTC on 6th August 2012. It used a novel landing system, which saw it first slowed by a heat shield, then a parachute, and then the rover was lowered from a cradle, the Sky Crane, that hovered above the surface using retro-rockets. Once safely on the surface, the cables connecting the rover to the cradle were severed, and the cradle jetted away to a crash-landing, allowing the rover to explore the planet. Curiosity will roam the surface of Mars for at least one Martian year (686 Earth days, or 668 Mars days), studying the climate and geology of the planet, and its suitability for past, present and future life. For an alternative view of this process, see clip K003 3820.
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