In this video by the team members at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, you can see the incredible engineering of the Curiosity Mars rover‘s final minutes to landing on the surface of Mars. The car-sized rover will land on the Red Planet in August.
This image shows changes in the target landing area for Curiosity, the rover of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory project. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/MSSS
Curiosity is scheduled to land at approximately 10:31 p.m. PDT Aug. 5 (1:31 a.m. EDT, Aug. 6). Following checkout operations, Curiosity will begin a two-year study of whether the landing vicinity ever offered an environment favorable for microbial life.
“We’re trimming the distance we’ll have to drive after landing by almost half,” said Pete Theisinger, Mars Science Laboratory project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “That could get us to the mountain months earlier.”
It was possible to adjust landing plans because of increased confidence in precision landing technology aboard the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, which is carrying the Curiosity rover. That spacecraft can aim closer without hitting Mount Sharp at the center of Gale crater. Rock layers located in the mountain are the prime location for research with the rover.