Mars Rover 'Curiosity' set for hair raising descent to the surface tomorrow night

NASA, who knows a thing or two about space PR, is calling the latest Mars probe's descent to the surface "7 Minutes of Terror." And why not? It's never been tried before, and given the track record for Mars landers, it is more than possible that it won't work and $2.5 billion of US taxpayer money will end up as a smudge on the surface of the Red Planet. But, in a way, it is heartening. NASA is taking a risk with the reward being advancing our knowledge and understanding of Mars further and faster than any other probe ever sent. Curiosity is the size of a small car, the largest planetary lander in history. Thus, the unusual re-entry system where several complex maneuvers will guide the craft down to the surface. Reuters explains: Over twice as large and five times heavier than either of the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity that landed on Mars in 2004, Curiosity weighs too much to bounce to the surface in airbags or fly itself to the ground with rocket thrusters, systems successfully...(Read Full Post)