Curiosity's 7 minutes of terror on Mars
Team members at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory share the challenges of the Curiosity Mars rover's final minutes to landing on the surface of Mars.
During entry through Mars’ atmosphere, which is known to JPL scientists as Seven Minutes of Terror:
- The capsule will slow from 13,000 miles per hour to zero.
- External temperatures will peak at over 1,500 degrees Celsius.
- Curiosity will deploy the largest and strongest supersonic parachute ever built to “catch” over 65,000 pounds of force.
- Precision, radar-guided rockets will maneuver the capsule to a full, hovering stop 20 meters above the surface.
- The ship’s sky-crane will lower Curiosity the final meters to a soft landing.
Simulating the Curiosity rover’s final approach and landing was a major feat for everyone involved (VIDEO), as NASA used Siemens PLM Software to account for the thousands of data points (in over half a million lines of code) to recreate the out-of-this-world conditions needed to test the final minutes of Curiosity’s journey to Mars.