Curiosity rover: Hoping for a “perfect 10”

Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

Here is the AP’s headline, which I wish I had written:

NASA to athletic Mars rover: ‘Stick the landing’

In less than four days, NASA’s mini-Cooper-sized Mars rover will land on Mars (finger’s crossed). This is no small feat: about half of all missions to the Red Planet have failed. Plus, NASA is using a new “sky crane” landing technology rather than letting the rover bounce or parachute to a landing. So, yes, I’m holding my breath and sitting on pins and needles. It’s the same feeling I’ve had all week watching the U.S. Olympic team.

For those on the West Coast, Curiosity (also known as Mars Science Laboratory) will touch down at Gale Crater at 10:31 p.m. PDT Aug. 5 (1:31 a.m. EDT Aug. 6). NASA TV will cover the event live with coverage beginning at 8:30 p.m. PDT, so you can tune in on your TV or computer.

Curiosity has several advantages over rovers past. It will run on nuclear instead of solar power, meaning it can keep on trucking during Martian winter. It’s wheels are much beefier than those of Sojourner and Spirit and Opportunity, allowing the rover to drive over rocks 29 inches high and travel 656 feet per day. Curiosity is a chemist and geologist in one, with the most sophisticated instruments to date. It can gobble up samples and analyze them in its internal laboratory. Over the course of the mission, Curiosity will study the role of water on Mars, atmospheric evolution and climate.

Here are some resources for sharing this historic moment with your curious kids.

Will you watch the landing? Will you tune in with your kids?

4 thoughts on “Curiosity rover: Hoping for a “perfect 10””

  1. Just awesome, Kirsten! Welcome back. I’m going to check out the links/resources you provided with my kids. What an exciting thing for the young ones to learn about. Thank you.

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