Don’t forget the Mars Rover, Curiosity is About to Land!

Curiosity is scheduled to arrive on Mars late Sunday night (10:31 PST, Aug 5) or early Monday (1:31am EST, Aug. 6) depending on where you live. View it live at NASA TV.  The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover took nearly 36 weeks (254 days) to travel from Earth to Mars. Its mission is to continue the robotic exploration of Mars assessing whether Mars ever had an environment that could support life forms called microbes.  It will analyze soil samples. It will try to determine what the martian environment was like in the past.
Here is a photo of the Mars Rover Curiosity before it left for Mars:
Curiosity photo courtesy of NASA

Key Dates

Launch:

Nov. 26, 2011, 7:02 a.m. PST
(10:02 a.m. EST)

Landing:
Aug. 5, 2012 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT/Aug. 6 UTC)

As I mentioned in my post a couple of week ago, the landing is exciting (or tense for the scientists!) because of the deceleration needed to set the 1-ton rover down on Mars. It has to go from 13,000 miles per hour to 0 mph in just seven minutes! (See more here.) This landing will be different from previous missions. This time instead of using airbags, Curiosity will be lowered down on a tethers.  Here is an artist’s drawing of the landing.

For more information visit the Mars Science Laboratory website and the see the Curiosity countdown clock here.  Here is a fact sheet about the Mars Science Laboratory.

Activities to Learn About Mars: Here’s a post I did a couple of weeks ago with activities for kids to learn about Mars.

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