NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover has begun it’s Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) phase of the mission.
Launched two days after Thanksgiving in 2011, MSL is now poised for its most critical phase of the mission. On Mon. Aug 6 @ 1:31 am EDT, millions of people around the world will be anticipating signals from the one-ton Curiosity rover indicating it has arrived safely on the surface of Mars.
A short video “Seven Minutes of Terror”](http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/index.cfm?id=1090) has gone viral and captured the attention of major news media everywhere. Everything MSL needs to do has been programmed and tested over the past several years. With round-trip communication lag of almost a half-hour, the vehicle operates completely autonomously. From Earth, we’re listening for the events as they played out at Mars fourteen minutes earlier.
Special events are being held to witness an incredibly amazing feat of engineering and science. The landing will be streamed on big screens for the public, even in Times Square NYC! Other events have been identified by The Planetary Society.
I will be watching from the Planetfest Event in Pasadena, CA with family, friends and members of FRC Team 980. Shortly after landing, I plan to be back at JPL as a member of the MSL/RAD team. For sure, those seven critical minutes of autonomous action will be heart-pounding excitement.
A newly-released 3-D animation featured here allows the user to control the viewing perspective and speed of Curiosity’s EDL. Check out the preview, then watch the real thing on NASA-TV or at one of the special events.
P.S. This is the biggest and most powerful car Dave sent taken to Mars!
The Autonomous period of this mission is going to be sick, In FRC i thought that just doing something for 15 seconds was crazy, but reentering the atmosphere in autonomous and having it do so many things during that phase is gonna be insane